The Civil War

 

THE CIVIL WAR: GENERAL

 imgres Kay Moore’s If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War (Scholastic, 1994), written in question-and-answer format, covers such topics as “How did the war start?” “Which states left the Union?” and “Did your home life change because of the war?” A good interactive read for ages 7-10.
 imgres-1 John Stanchak’s Civil War (Dorling Kindersley, 2011) in the Eyewitness series covers the war in 30 double-page spreads, each packed with information, period prints, maps, and terrific color photographs of artifacts. Topics include: “Slave life,” “The Underground Railroad,” “Outfitting armies,” “Great commanders,” “Army camp life,” “Gettysburg,” and more. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-2 Thomas Ratliff’s You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Civil War Soldier! (Children’s Press, 2013) – one of the extensive You Wouldn’t Want to Be series – pairs historical information with cartoon illustrations. Appealingly readable and not as silly as it initially looks. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-3 Also see Kathryn Senior’s You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Nurse During the American Civil War! (Franklin Watts, 2010) (subtitled “A Job That’s Not for the Squeamish”).
From LibraryThing, here’s the complete list of titles in the You Wouldn’t Want to Be series.
 imgres-4 Janis Herbert’s The Civil War for Kids (Chicago Review Press, 1999) – a “History with 21 Activities” – covers the war in chronological order, illustrated with period prints, photos, and maps, along with capsule biographies and interesting facts in boxes. Included are a timeline, glossary, and resource list. Activities include making berry ink, butternut dye, and hardtack. For ages 9 and up. (Also see Projects and Activities, below.)
 imgres-5 By Pulitizer-Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson, Fields of Fury: The American Civil War (Atheneum Books, 2002) is a terrific 96-page overview of the Civil War, organized chronologically from start to finish. Included are drawings and paintings, maps, period photographs, and Quick Facts boxes. An excellent resource for ages 9-12.
 imgres-6 Joy Hakim’s eleven-volume A History of US (Oxford University Press, 2007) is a superb American history series, filled with photos and interesting asides, and told in the form of a compelling and absorbing story. The Civil War volume is titled War, Terrible War. This is history as it ought to be taught, but usually isn’t. Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-7 Don Nardo’s Civil War Witness (Compass Point Books, 2013) in the Captured History series (in which the central theme is how photographs can change the world) is an account of how photographer Matthew Brady documented the Civil War, illustrated with Brady’s own photographs. For ages 10 and up. For other titles in the series, see Capstone Classroom.
 imgres-8 Steve Sheinkin’s 250-page Two Miserable Presidents (Roaring Brook Press, 2008) aims to tell “The Amazing, Terrible, and Totally True Story of the Civil War.” The two miserable presidents are Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis; and Sheinkin does a good job of explaining the big picture and integrating the interesting stories that bring history to life. (It begins with Congressman Preston Brooks of SC about to bean Senator Charles Sumner of MA with his cane.) A good pick for ages 10-14.
 imgres-9 Jim Murphy’s The Boys’ War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993) is an account of the experiences of boys ages 16 or younger who fought in the Civil War, based on diaries, journals, memoirs, and letters – beginning with “So I Became a Soldier” to “We’re Going Home.” Illustrated with period photographs. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-10 Stephanie Fitzgerald’s 64-page The Split History of the Civil War (Compass Point Books, 2012) is actually two books in one, one written from the Union point of view, the other from that of the Confederacy. Chapter 1 from the Union perspective, for example, is titled “1861: Insurrection!” while Chapter 1 from the Confederate perspective is “1861: A Quest for Independence.” Included are quotations and period photos. A discussion promoter for ages 10-14.
From the Smithsonian, this annotated Civil War Timeline begins in 1859, with John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.

THE CIVIL WAR: SPECIFIC TOPICS

 imgres-12 Candice F. Ransom’s Willie McLean and the Civil War Surrender (First Avenue Editions, 2004) is the story of Lee’s 1865 surrender to Grant in the McLean house in the little town of Appomattox Court House that finally ended the Civil War. The story features young Willie and Lula McLean; an afternote explains how Lula’s rag doll was taken by a Union officer and eventually, in the 1990s, donated to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. For beginning readers ages 6-8.
 imgres-13 From the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Lula McLean’s Rag Doll is an online story, told in the voice of the doll, of Lee’s surrender to Grant in 1865. There’s also a photograph of the doll.
 imgres-14 Cheryl Harness’s Mary Walker Wears the Pants (Albert Whitman & Company, 2013) is the story of the unconventional Mary Edwards Walker, suffragist, and one of the first woman doctors in the United States – who joined the Union Army as a doctor and became the only woman ever to win a Medal of Honor. (And she wore pants!) For ages 6-9.
 imgres-15 In Patricia Polacco’s Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln (Puffin, 2014), Michael and Derek walk through a door in a Civil War museum and end up back in 1862 just after the Battle of Antietam, where they meet Abraham Lincoln and bring him a hopeful message from the future. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-16 By Kate Boehm Jerome, Civil War Sub: The Mystery of the Hunley (Penguin, 2002) tells the story of the Confederate submarine that completed one mission, then vanished, only to be recovered in 2000. For readers ages 7-9.
 imgres-17 Fran Hawk’s The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin (Sleeping Bear Press, 2004) is the story of the remarkable Confederate submarine that became the first combat submarine to sink an enemy warship. It was recovered in 2000.  For ages 7-11.
 imgres-18 Sally Walker’s Secrets of a Civil War Submarine (Carolrhoda, 2005) is a fascinating and well-researched account of the design and building of the Civil War submarine, the Hunley, its one and only mission, and its recovery over 100 years later (with the bodies of the crew still on board). Illustrated with maps, drawings, and photos. For ages 12 and up.
Read more about it at The Hunley’s Daring Submarine Mission.
The Friends of the Hunley website has a history of the submarine and information about its recovery.
 imgres-19 Patricia Gauch’s Thunder at Gettysburg (Calkins Creek, 2003) is the story of the battle through the eyes of 14-year-old Tillie, based on an actual autobiographical account. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-20 Jean Fritz’s Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln (Penguin, 1993) is a reader-friendly account of the Gettysburg Address for ages 7-9.
Gettysburg by the Numbers discusses what the weather was like during the days of the Battle of Gettysburg, how it affected the soldiers, and how weather impacts battles in general.
 imgres-21 Jim O’Connor’s What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? (Grosset & Dunlap, 2013) has a brief overview of the Civil War and a detailed description of the Battle of Gettysburg and its importance. Illustrated with maps, drawings, and photographs. For ages 8-12.
For the complete list of the What Was? series books, see here.
 imgres-22 Jean Fritz’s Stonewall (Puffin, 1997) is a beautifully written 150-page biography of the Southern general who got his nickname from his stand at the Battle of Bull Run. It appears to be out of print – check your local library. Worth tracking down because Fritz is a superb historical writer.  For ages 8-12.
 imgres-23 By Kathleeen Krull, Louisa May’s Battle (Walker Children’s Books, 2013) is the story of how Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War experiences – she worked as a nurse – led eventually to the publication of Little Women, one of the first novels to be set during the Civil War. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-24 The featured women of Mary Rodd Furbee’s Outrageous Women of Civil War Times (Jossey-Bass, 2003) weren’t all what I’d call outrageous, but they were certainly prominent. The book is divided into four informational sections: Reformers and Writers, Saviors and Leaders, Soldiers and Spies, and First Ladies. Readers learn about Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, Dorothea Dix, Belle Boyd, and more. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-25 Sally Walker’s Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud and Divided a Nation (Candlewick, 2014) is a well-researched and wide-ranging account of the boundary that played such a prominent role in the antebellum slavery debate and the post-Civil-War cultural divide. But there’s a lot more to it than that. A thoroughly interesting read for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-26 Lynda Jones’s Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009) is the story of the “unlikely friendship” between Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave and the First Lady’s dressmaker. For ages 10-14.
From the Smithsonian magazine, see The Story of Elizabeth Keckley, Former-Slave-Turned-Mrs.-Lincoln’s-Dressmaker.
 imgres-27 By Thomas B. Allen, Mr. Lincoln’s High-tech War (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009) pairs an overview of the Civil War with an account of the technology that was used to win it, from the submarine and the ironclad warship to the telegraph, railroad, and repeating rifle. For ages 12 and up.

 

THE CIVIL WAR IN FICTION

 imgres-28 In Pat Sherman’s Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2009), Ben is a young slave boy in Charleston, SC, who has learned to read – though literacy is illegal for slaves. Imprisoned when the war breaks out, Ben uses his forbidden skill to read the newspaper account of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to his fellow prisoners. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-29 In Civil War on Sunday (Random House, 2000), one of Mary Pope Osborne’s immensely popular Magic Tree House series, Jack and Annie – attempting to help Morgan le Fay, librarian of Camelot – travel back in time to the Civil War, where they help Clara Barton, the “Angel of the Battlefield,” save wounded soldiers. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-30 There are many biographies of Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross. For ages 4-8, see Patricia Polacco’s picture book Clara and Davie (Scholastic, 2014); for ages 6-10, the TIME for Kids series includes the 48-page Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield (HarperCollins, 2008), illustrated with period and modern photographs.
For teenagers and adults, see historian Stephen Oates’s comprehensive Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War (Free Press, 1995).
 imgres-31 In Lauren Tarshis’s I Survived: Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 (Scholastic, 2013) – one of the I Survived series – eleven-year-old Thomas and his five-year-old sister, Birdie, have escaped from slavery and are headed north, following the North Star. The two are adopted by a regiment of Union soldiers – and end up in Pennsylvania at the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. For ages 7-10.
Check out the complete list of the I Survived books here and take a quiz to test your survival skills.
 imgres-32 In Cheryl Harness’s Ghosts of the Civil War (Simon & Schuster, 2004), Lindsey – who has no interest in the Civil War – meets the ghost of young Willie Lincoln and ends up taking a personal tour of the war and its times. The book is packed with information – timelines, annotated maps, fact sidebars – and the dialogue is delivered in cartoon bubbles. A lot of interesting detail in 48 pages for ages 7-10.
 imgres-33 In Laurie Myers’s Escape by Night (Henry Holt and Company, 2011), 10-year-old Tommy and his sister Annie have been watching soldiers arrive in their Georgia town, where the local church has been turned into a hospital for the war-wounded. One of the soldiers drops his notebook and Tommy sends his dog to fetch it. He returns it to its owner – a soldier named Red – and a friendship begins. Soon, however, Tommy realizes that Red is actually a Union soldier – and he must make a decision based on his loyalties and his changing attitudes toward slavery and the war. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-34 In Trinka Hakes Noble’s The Last Brother (Sleeping Bear Press, 2006), 11-year-old Gabe is a bugler for the Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg, while his older brother Davy – his “last brother,” Gabe has already lost two to the war – is in the thick of the fray. Before the battle begins, Gabe meets Orlee, a young bugler from Mississippi, and the two boys discover that, despite their opposite allegiances, they have a lot in common. Suddenly Gabe has questions about loyalties to family, friends, and country – and when the order comes to sound the “Charge!,” he has to make a decision. For ages 7-11.
The Last Brother is a detailed teacher’s guide to accompany the book, with exercises and activities. Some are more appealing than others – “Soldier Math,” for example, includes such unexciting problems as “Gabe practice the bugle for 3 hours each morning and 2 hours each evening. How many hours did he practice each week?” Other projects include making a Civil War diorama, writing an entry in Gabe’s journal, designing a medal for a bugler, and locating key sites from the Battle of Gettysburg on a map.
 imgres-35 Patricia Polacco’s Pink and Say (Philomel, 1994) is based on the true story of a pair of teenaged soldiers. Pink, an African-American, finds Say left for dead on a Georgia battlefield, and carries him home to his mother, who nurses him back to health. Pink’s mother is killed by marauders, and the two boys – later captured – end up in Andersonville Prison, where Pink is hanged, but Say survives to tell their story. A powerful, but heart-wrenching, tale for ages 8 and up.
 imgres-36 “Seeing the elephant” was 19th-century slang for a first experience of battle. In Pat Hughes’s Seeing the Elephant: A Story of the Civil War (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2007), 10-year-old Izzie’s two older brothers are off to fight for the Union. Izzie wants desperately to go too – but when he meets a wounded rebel soldier at the hospital where his Aunt Bell works as a nurse, he learns that war is far more complicated than he had believed. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-37 Barry Denenberg’s When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Diary of Emma Simpson (Scholastic, 2011) in the Dear America series is the story in Emma’s words of life in Virginia during the days of the Civil War, dealing with hardship and scarcity, the absence of her father, the death of her brother. “I never realized how happy I was until this war besieged our land,” Emma writes. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-38 In Patricia Beatty’s Turn Homeward, Hannalee (HarperCollins, 1999), 12-year-old Hannalee is one of 2000 Georgia millworkers forcibly sent to work in the North after General Sherman passes through town and burns the mill. Hannalee is determined to find her younger brother and to return home to her mother. Based on true historical events. There’s a sequel, set in 1865: Be Ever Hopeful, Hannalee. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-39 In Carolyn Reader’s award-winning Shades of Gray (Aladdin, 1999), 12-year-old Will has lost his entire family in the Civil War, and now is being sent to live on a farm with unknown relatives.  There he meets his Uncle Jed, who has refused to fight for the Confederacy. Will considers him to be a coward and a traitor – until he gradually comes to see that there are many kinds of courage, For ages 8-12.
 imgres-40 In Rodman Philbrick’s The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Scholastic, 2011), Homer’s wicked guardian, Uncle Squint, has sold his older brother, Harold, to the Union Army, to take the place of a rich man’s son. Home, who has a talent for telling whoppers, sets out to rescue him, having adventures along the way with a host of colorful characters, among them a pair of repulsive slave catchers, a kindly Quaker, and the suspect Professor Fleabottom, owner of a medicine show called the Caravan of Miracles. Homer is accused of spying, but escapes in a hot-air balloon; finally he finds his brother and the pair end up fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg under the command of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. A great story for ages 9-12.
 imgres-41 In Avi’s Iron Thunder (Disney-Hyperion, 2009), 13-year-old Tom takes a job in the Brooklyn, NY, ironworks after his father is killed fighting for the Union. There he becomes friends with inventor John Ericsson, who is building a remarkable ironclad ship, the Monitor, destined to battle the Confederate Merrimac. Tom’s association with Ericsson makes him a target for Confederate spies; to escape, he ends up living on board the boat – and sailing with her when she heads for her great sea battle. For ages 9-13.
 imgres-42 Irene Hunt’s Across Five Aprils (Berkley, 2002) is the story of young Jethro Creighton through the years – five Aprils – of the Civil War, as his brothers and teacher leave to fight for either the Union or the Confederacy.  A good discussion book for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-43 Paul Fleischman’s Bull Run (HarperCollins, 1995) is a fascinating account of the terrible Civil War battle, told from sixteen different points of view (black and white, male and female, Union and Confederate). Excellent for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-44 By Craig Crist-Evans, Moon Over Tennessee (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003), illustrated with wood engravings by Bonnie Christensen, is a free-verse “diary” of a 13-year-old farm boy from Tennessee who goes with his father when he joins the Confederate army, and stays with him until his father’s death at the Battle of Gettysburg. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-45 Seymour Reit’s Behind Rebel Lines (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) is the incredible (true) story of Emma Edmonds who disguised herself as a man and joined the Union Army – and later became a spy, working behind enemy lines. A suspenseful read for ages 12 and up.
 imgres-46 Ann Rinaldi’s The Last Silk Dress (Starfire, 1990), set in the Civil War, is a story of conflicting loyalties. Fourteen-year-old Susan does her best to help the Confederacy, by collecting silk dresses to make a reconnaissance balloon to spy on the enemy forces. Then she meets her scandalous brother Lucien – who has long been banished from the family – and her views of the war begin to change. For ages 12 and up.
Other Civil-War-era books by Ann Rinaldi include Leigh Anne’s Civil War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), My Vicksburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), The Last Full Measure (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), and The Girl in Blue (Scholastic, 2005).
 imgres-47 In James Collier’s With Every Drop of Blood (Laurel Leaf, 1996), 14-year-old Johnny – the book’s narrator – has promised his father (now dead of war wounds) that he’ll stay on the family farm in Virginia. Instead, he embarks on a dangerous mission to smuggle food into besieged Richmond, and is captured by black Union soldiers. One of these – Cush – is about Johnny’s age and eventually the boys develop a friendship. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-48 Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind (Scribner, 2011) is the story of Scarlett O’Hara – beautiful, selfish, spoiled, and brave – raised in luxury on a plantation and then plunged into the horrors of the Civil War. A wonderful read for ages 13 and up.
 images The 1939 movie version of Gone With the Wind, starring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, is rated PG.
From Carol Hurst’s Literature Site, The Civil War in Children’s Literature is an overview of recommended books with Civil War themes, with some extension suggestions.

CIVIL WAR LESSON PLANS

 imgres-49 From the Civil War Trust, Civil War Lesson Plans is a great collection for a range of ages, categorized by Elementary, Middle, and High School. Sample titles: “Civil War Animal Mascots,” “Civil War Reader’s Theater,” Map the Civil War,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and “Civil War Medicine.”
Teachnology’s Civil War Lesson Plans is a long list, including such titles as “Civil War Battle Map,” “Deciphering Morse Code,” “The Cost of War,” and more.
 banner_civilwar From inventive teacher Mr. Donn, Civil War has a collection of lesson plans and unit studies, most targeted at elementary- and middle-grade-level students.
 imgres-50 From the Tennessee State Museum, The Life of a Civil War Soldier is a multi-part lesson plan targeted at grades 5-12 in which kids variously study the war through period music, personal items (what did soldiers carry with them?), and letters home. Included are printable student worksheets, song lyrics, and period letters. (Also see Music and Poetry, below.)
 imgres-51 From the American Numismatic Association, Money and the Civil War is an upper-elementary-level lesson plan on money, mints, and maps at the time of the Civil War. Included is a list of vaguely connected arithmetic problems.
 women1 From Scholastic, Uncommon Soldiers: Women During the Civil War is a collection of projects and activities, many with associated reading suggestions, on women’s history in the Civil War era.

PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

 imgres-52 Dover Publications sells several inexpensive annotated coloring books with Civil War themes, among them The Story of the Civil War Coloring Book, Civil War Uniforms Coloring Book, From Antietam to Gettysburg: A Civil War Coloring Book, Famous Women of the Civil War Coloring Book, and (for fans of Scarlett O’Hara) Civil War Fashions Coloring Book.
 imgres-53 For paper-doll fans, Dover Publications has several Civil-War-era books, among them American Family of the Civil War Era, Southern Belles, and Abraham Lincoln and His Family.
 imgres-54 Maxine Anderson’s Great Civil War Projects You Can Build Yourself (Nomad Press, 2005) is divided into two major sections: “On the Battlefield” and “On the Homefront.” Battlefield projects include making a Civil War bugle – you’ll need a garden hose, duct tape, and a funnel; constructing a pinhole camera (while learning all about famous photographer Matthew Brady); building a model ironclad and paddlewheeler; making a periscope and a working telegraph; stitching a signal flag and learning how to send messages with it; cooking a batch of hardtack; and making your own Union or Confederate uniforms. (First visit a thrift shop to look for old blue or gray suit jackets, Anderson suggests.) Homefront projects are equally inventive, among them making berry ink and homemade paper; stitching a four-patch quilt and a rag doll; making dried apples and molasses taffy; designing a Scarlett-O’Hara-style fan; and constructing a banjo and an Underground Railroad lantern. Also included are a glossary and a resource list of books and web sites. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-55 By the Civil War Trust, The Civil War Kids 150 (Lyons Press, 2012) is a 96-page collection of Civil War projects and activities, intended to accompany the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Among the fifty activities: make your own signal flag and send a message, make your own Civil War map, make “flat soldiers” and take them to Civil War battlefields, locate someone connected to the Civil War, and memorize the Gettysburg Address. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-56 David C. King’s Civil War Days (Jossey-Bass, 1999) (subtitled “Discover the Past with Exciting Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes) follows the lives of two children through the four seasons – 12-year-old Timothy Wheeler, an African-American boy from New York City, and 11-year-old Emily Parkhurst, a white girl from Charleston, South Carolina.  Activities include making a pressed-flower scrapbook, a papier-mache bowl, and a yarn doll, learning Morse code, playing a game of mankala, and whipping up batches of hardtack and shortnin’ bread. For ages 8-12.

THE CIVIL WAR ON FILM

 imgres-57 Ken Burns’s nine-episode PBS series The Civil War is a masterpiece. Episodes are “The Cause” (1861), “A Very Bloody Affair” (1862), “Forever Free” (1862), “Simply Murder” (1863), “The Universe of Battle” (1863), “Valley of the Shadow of Death” (1864), “Most Hallowed Ground” (1864), “War is All Hell” (1865), and “The Better Angels of Our Nature” (1865). See the website for episode descriptions, video clips, classroom activities and lesson plans, resources, and more. Highly recommended.
Top !5 Civil War Movies is an annotated list running, in reverse chronology, from the 2003 Cold Mountain to the 1926 The General, starring Buster Keaton.
Check out The Five Best Civil War Films to See, and Three to Skip, according to a Georgia political science professor.
 imgres-58 From PBS’s American Experience, Death and the Civil War is an account of the appalling toll the war took. See the associated Civil War by the Numbers.

MUSIC AND POETRY

 imgres-59 By J. Patrick Lewis, The Brothers’ War (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2007) pairs period Civil War photographs with poems in the voices of slaves, soldiers, both Northern and Southern, army nurses, and families impacted by war. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-60 Poet Stephen Vincent Benet’s John Brown’s Body (Ivan R. Dee, 1990) – described as “an epic blend of poetry and historical fiction” – won the Pulitzer Prize in 1929. It’s filled with wonderful characters, both real and fictional: Clay Wingate, aristocrat from Georgia; Sally Dupre, daughter of a French dancing-master; Jake Diefer, the barrel-chested Pennsylvania farmer; Jack Ellyat, a scholar from Connecticut; and Melora Vilas, raised in the wilderness by her father – a “hider” – who wanted only to avoid the war. A wonderful read; highly recommended for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-61 By Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, who provided the soundtrack for Burns’s The Civil War, Civil War Classics is a collection of songs of the times, among them “Lorena,” “Hard Crackers,” and “Marching Through Georgia” – ending with Ungar’s haunting “Ashokan Farewell.” CD or MP3.
Poetry and Music of the War Between the States has many examples, categorized under Union or Confederacy.

 

 

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Vermont

 

First of a new project – Read Your Way Through Fifty States!

GENERAL RESOURCES

 images-1 Enchanted Learning has basic information on the state of Vermont, a state map, and assorted printable quizzes, coloring pages, and activity sheets aimed at elementary-level kids. The info is free to all; some printouts are only available to site members. An annual membership costs $20.
 images-2 The Vermont Historical Society sponsors both the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier and the Vermont Heritage Galleries in Barre. Visit the website for information on visits, as well as a wealth of information, online exhibits and photo galleries, research resources, and educational resources for kids – including over 200 printable articles, primary resources, maps and photographs, and an illustrated timeline of Vermont history.
 images-3 At the official Vermont State website, see the Historic Sites page for information on all Vermont historic sites, as well as Vermont archaeology, cultural landscapes, roadside historic markers (all 210 of them), and upcoming history-related events. Find out how to take a state History Trek!
 images By Ann McKinstry Micou, A Guide to Fiction Set in Vermont (Vermont Humanities Council, 2005) is an annotated guide to nearly 500 novels and short stories set in Vermont. Listings are alphabetical, by author. Reference.

READ! For Kids and Teens

 images-5 Caldecott medalist Mary Azarian’s A Farmer’s Alphabet (David R. Godine, 2012) has a wonderful woodblock print for each Vermont-themed letter of the alphabet from Apple through Lamb, Maple Syrup, Pumpkin, Rocker, and Zinnia. J is for Jump (as in the hay). For ages 3 and up.
 imgres By Woody Jackson, A Cow’s Alfalfa-Bet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2003) is a Vermont Holstein-cow-themed alphabet book illustrated with gorgeous watercolors. (A is for Alfalfa, B for Barn, C for Corn.) For ages 3 and up.
 images-6 For many many cow books and resources for all ages, also see MOO! ALL ABOUT COWS.
 imgres-1 Cynthia Furlong Reynolds’s M is for Maple Syrup: A Vermont Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press, 2002) pairs (well, pretty lame) verses (“Alphabet and Animal begin with A/Our state animal says neigh-neigh!”) with illustrations and informative sidebars. Each letter stands for a Vermont feature: B is for (covered) Bridge; L for Lake Champlain; R for Red Clover. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-2 “Nothing is more important on this farm than hay,” Nora’s grandfather says. In Jessie Haas’s Hurry! (Greenwillow, 2000), set on an old-fashioned Vermont family farm, Nora and her grandparents hustle to load their wagon and bring in the hay before the storm breaks. Other picture-book stories about Nora, her grandparents, and their farm include Mowing (1994), No Foal Yet (1995), and Sugaring (1996). For ages 4-8.
 imgres-3 The year is 1790, the first U.S. Census is underway, and not everybody is pleased about it. In Jacqueline Davis’s clever picture book Tricking the Tallyman (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009), when census-taker Phinease Bump rides into ‘Tunbridge, Vermont, the nervous citizens do their best to fool him into thinking that there are far fewer (or many more) of them than there really are. Finally, when they come to understand what the census is all about, they consent to be counted “Fair and true.” For ages 5-9.
From the Teaching American History Project, Tricking the Tallyman and the First U.S. Census is a lesson plan based on the book, targeted at grade 5.
 imgres-4 The Vermont Folklife Center has a series of books based on the Center’s historical oral storytelling collection for ages 6-10. Among these are Mildred Pitts Walker’s Alec’s Primer (2005), the story of a young Virginia slave boy, taught to read by his owner’s granddaughter, who escapes from his southern plantation, serves in the Union army, and eventually ends up living free on a farm in Vermont. See the website for a complete list of books with descriptions.
 images-7 Kathryn Lasky’s Newbery Honor book Sugaring Time (Aladdin, 1986) is the story of a Vermont farm family making maple syrup, illustrated with wonderful period black-and-white photographs. This is old-fashioned sugaring: Lasky’s family uses horses, sleighs, and sap buckets. For ages 6-12.
 imgres-5 In Natalie Kinsey-Warnock’s The Canada Geese Quilt (Puffin, 2000), set on a farm in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, ten-year-old Ariel is having trouble coping with the changes in her family – first, with her mother’s pregnancy, and then with her beloved grandmother’s stroke and subsequent depression. The resolution ultimately comes from the Canada Geese quilt that Grandma was making for the baby before her stroke, based on a drawing of Ariel’s of a Vermont spring. Ariel – who hadn’t wanted to have anything to do with sewing the quilt – volunteers to help finish it. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-6 A Moose for Jessica by Pat Wakefield and Larry Carrara (Puffin, 1992) is the (true) story of a young bull moose who wandered into a field near Shrewsbury, Vermont, and became attached to a Hereford cow named Jessica. Illustrated with great color photographs. An NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book for ages 7-12.
 imgres-7 Alice Turner Curtis’s A Little Maid of Ticonderoga (Applewood Books, 1997) – one of a series originally published in the early 20th century – is the story of young Faith Carew, growing up on a farm outside of Brandon, Vermont, who manages to give Colonel Ethan Allen help in capturing Fort Ticonderoga. For ages 8-11.
 images-8 In Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Understood Betsy (Avyx, 1986), first published in 1916, Elizabeth Ann, aged nine, is an orphan, living with her over-protective Great-Aunt Harriet and Harriet’s middle-aged daughter, Frances. When Great-Aunt Harriet becomes ill, Elizabeth Ann is sent to live with another set of relatives, the Putneys, on their “horrible” farm in Vermont. There, now called Betsy, she discovers a competence and independence that she’d never known before. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will love it. A classic for ages 8-11.
 images-9 In Marguerite Henry’s Newbery Honor book Justin Morgan Had a Horse (Aladdin, 2006), set in the late 18th century, Justin Morgan, in payment for a debt, gets a small, scrawny colt, Little Bub. He enlists the help of young horse-lover Joel Goss to train his colt – and soon Joel discovers that Little Bub is truly special, stronger and faster than any horse around. Eventually Little Bub becomes the sire of Vermont’s famous Morgan horse line. For ages 8-12.
 images-10 For more information on Morgan horses, visit the National Museum of the Morgan Horse.
 imgres-8 In Julia Alvarez’s How Tia Lola Came to Stay (Yearling, 2002), nine-year-old Miguel with his little sister, Juanita, and his mother have just moved from New York to Vermont in the wake of his parents’ divorce. Miguel – the only Latino in his class – struggles to fit in, and worries that things will only get worse with the arrival of his flamboyant Tia Lola from the Dominican Republic, who wears wildly flowered dresses, speaks only Spanish, and paints the family’s conventionally white farmhouse bright purple. For ages 8-12.
 images-11 Eleanor H. Porter’s 1913 classic Pollyanna (Empire Books, 2012) is the story of the perennially cheerful 11-year-old orphan sent to Vermont to live with her strict and unsympathetic Aunt Polly. Her upbeat disposition wins the hears of all around her,  including, eventually, Aunt Polly. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-9 Robert Newton Peck’s Soup (Yearling, 1988) is the story of Peck’s rural Vermont childhood in the 1920’s with his best friend, Soup, whose creative ideas for adventures often go dreadfully wrong. Included is a great cast of characters, including their sworn enemy, the female class bully, Janice Riker. There are many sequels, all great, among them Soup & Me, Soup for President, Soup’s Drum, and Soup on Wheels. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-10 Lenore Blegvad’s Kitty and Mr. Kipling (Margaret K. McElderry, 2005), set in the 1890s, is a fictionalized story of writer Rudyard Kipling’s stay in Vermont, as told by Kitty, a young neighbor. Kitty is fascinated by Mr. Kipling and his stories from The Jungle Book, but the townspeople have problems with the new residents. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-12 Gail Gauthier’s The Hero of Ticonderoga (Puffin, 2002), set in small-town Vermont in the 1960s, is the story of sixth-grader Tessy LeClerc, who has been given the best class history assignment – an oral report on Ethan Allen – a project that was expected to go to the entitled class star, Peggy. Tessy ends up giving her report over and over again, trying to get it right – and discovering in the process both her own talents and many surprising parallels between herself and the feisty hero of Ticonderoga. For ages 10-12.
 imgres-13 In Katherine Paterson’s Preacher’s Boy (HarperCollins, 2001), the year is 1899 and in Robbie’s rural Vermont community, many think that the turn of the century may mean the end of the world. This is a complex coming-of-age story as Robbie struggles with questions of belief, social change, morality, and growing up. For ages 10-12.
 imgres-14 In Katherine Paterson’s Jip, His Story (Puffin, 2005), set in Vermont in the 1850s, the title character is a 12-year-old orphan, living and working at the local poor farm, where he befriends a fellow resident, Putnam Nelson, a supposed lunatic. Jip’s story coincides with the pre-Civil-War conflict between abolitionists and slave owners. When he eventually discovers that his mother was a slave, he and Put escape, fleeing to Canada via the Underground Railroad. For ages 10-14.
 imgres-15 Elizabeth Winthrop’s Counting on Grace (Yearling, 2007) is set in Pownal, Vermont, in 1910, where 12-year-old Grace and her best friend Arthur have been taken out of school and sent to help their mothers in the textile mills. With the help of a sympathetic teacher, Miss Lesley, they write a letter about the appalling conditions in the mill to the National Child Labor Committee – and get a response in the form of (real-life) activist/photographer Lewis Hine, who arrives to photograph the “mill rats” at work. Arthur eventually deliberately mangles his hand in the factory machinery in an attempt to escape the mill; and Miss Lesley is fired, though leaves Grace with the hope of becoming a teacher in her stead. A terrific, though sometimes painful, read about child labor. For ages 11-14.
 imgres-16 In Karen Hesse’s Witness (Scholastic, 2003), set in 1924 in a small Vermont town, the Ku Klux Klan has moved in, a frightening event for many, among them 12-year-old Leonora, who is black, and six-year-old Esther, who is Jewish. The book is beautifully written in multiple voices, in free verse. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-17 Set in the 1920s in rural Vermont, Robert Newton Peck’s A Day No Pigs Would Die (Laurel Leaf, 1994) is a powerful coming-of-age novel featuring 13-year-old Robert, his father, a pig butcher, and Robert’s pet pig, Pinky. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-18 Beth Kanell’s Darkness Under the Water (Candlewick, 2008) is the coming-of-age story of 16-year-old Molly Ballou, half Abenaki, half French Canadian, growing up in Vermont in the early 20th century at a time when a state eugenics program was targeting citizens deemed poor or undesirable. Molly has to deal with her heritage, her growing affection for an Abenaki boy, Henry, and the tragedy of her pregnant mother, who loses a baby, possibly at the hands of government nurses. For ages 14 and up.
 imgres-19 Sinclair Lewis’s classic novel It Can’t Happen Here (NAL Trade, 2005), originally published in 1935 and set in the era of the Great Depression, is still relevant, compelling, and frightening today. A new president – Berzelius (“Buzz”) Windrip – has just been elected, promising economic reform and a return to patriotism and traditional American values. Instead, he imposes a totalitarian regime, takes control of Congress, outlaws dissent, and begins to enforce his edicts by means of a paramilitary terrorist force called the Minute Men. Many Americans accept Windrip’s rule, believing it to be America’s path to world power. In opposition, however, is courageous Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup. It’s a sobering account of how easy freedom is to lose. Highly recommended (and a great discussion book) for teenagers and adults.
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Robots

 

 

Robots! Think of the robot in Lost in Space (Danger, Will Robinson!), Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still, Robby in Forbidden Planet, Rosie the robot maid in the Jetsons. Doctor Who’s Daleks, Star Trek’s Data. Marvin, the dismal robot in Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

See below for robot books and resources of all kinds. Build a robotic arm and a programmable robot; make tin-can and cereal-box robots; and learn about a robot so adorable that people help it cross the street.

READ ABOUT ROBOTS – Fiction

 imgres Heather Brown’s The Robot Book (Accord Publishing, 2013) explains what a robot is made of – one mouth, two eyes, two arms – but it’s what’s inside (a mechanical heart) that counts. A great interactive book with sturdy cogs, gears, bolts, and wheels to turn, slide, and manipulate. For roboticists ages 1-4.
imgres-1 In Ame Dyckman’s Boy and Bot (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012), a boy out gathering pine cones meets a big bright-red soup-can-shaped robot in the woods and the two have a wonderful time playing – until the robot’s power switch is inadvertently switched off. Worried, the boy takes the robot home and does everything he can think of to revive it, including reading it a story and feeding it applesauce. Finally the boy falls asleep. The robot then powers on, only to find his new friend – off. He carries the boy back to the laboratory and attempts to repair the malfunction (oil? a new battery?). Luckily all is put right by the timely arrival of the robot’s inventor. Cleverly funny, with a simple text for ages 3-6.
 imgres-2 Jon Scieszka’s Robot Zot! (Simon & Schuster, 2009) is out to conquer the Earth. The problem: he has landed in a household kitchen and he’s just three inches tall. He battles enemy kitchen appliances and a television set, and rescues the Queen of All Earth (a pink cell phone), before speeding off to conquer new galaxies. The pictures are hilarious, and so is Robot Zot, who talks like the Terminator. (“No one stop Robot Zot. Robot Zot crush lot.”) For ages 3-7.
 imgres-3 The star of Kelly DiPucchio’s Clink (Balzer + Bray, 2011) is an outmoded little robot with red feet, who can make (burned) toast and play music, but lacks the glitzier features of the newer, spiffier robots. Eventually, however, a little boy comes along for whom Clink is just right. It’s a Corduroy story, with robots. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-4 In Margaret McNamara’s The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot (Schwartz & Wade, 2011), an outer-space take on the Three Little Pigs tale, the three little (green) aliens, Bork, Gork, and Nklxwcyz, have been sent off by their mama to find planets of their own – but have been told to beware of the Big Bad Robot.  (“I’ll crack and smack and whack your house down!” meeped the Robot.) For ages 4-8.
For many more versions of “The Three Little Pigs” (and lots of pig resources), see PERFECT PIGS.
 imgres-5 David Lucas’s The Robot and the Bluebird (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008) is an old-fashioned fable (with robot). A robot with a broken heart is sent to the scrap heap where, one cold night, he adopts a shivering little bluebird. The bird makes her home in the robot’s empty chest and when she explains that she needs to travel south for the winter, he sets out to take her there. The robot gives out when they arrive, with the last words “Make your home in my heart” – and he ends up as a home for generations of nesting bluebirds. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-6 In Mac Barnett’s Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World (Disney Hyperion, 2010) – a picture book in graphic novel format – a little girl builds a gigantic robot for the science fair. The robot promptly breaks loose and goes on a rampage through the city. (“I probably shouldn’t have given it a superclaw or a laser eye or the power to control dogs’ minds,” she opines.) Funny and clever. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-7 In Cece Bell’s Rabbit and Robot (Candlewick, 2014), Robot spends the night with his friend Rabbit. Rabbit has a list of activities planned, but everything soon goes wrong – beginning with the pizza. (Robot doesn’t like carrots on his; he prefers nuts and bolts.) And there’s a great scene is which both appear in Rabbit-shaped pajamas. For early readers ages 5-7.
 imgres-8 In poet Ted Hughes’s The Iron Giant (Yearling, 1999), an enormous and indestructible robot with glowing eyes has crashed to Earth and is feeding himself on metal: barbed wire, tractors, and farm equipment. A little boy named Hogarth befriends the Giant and turns to him when a mysterious alien creature – the Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon – lands in Australia. As it turns out, the space creature is really there to bring about world peace. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-9 The 1999 film version of The Iron Giant is rated PG.
From Wired magazine, a thought-provoking article on The Iron Giant.
 imgres-10 For fans of the irrepressible and imaginative Freddy the Pig, see Walter R. Brooks’s The Clockwork Twin (Overlook Juvenile Books, 2013), in which Freddy and fellow animals on the Bean farm rescue a boy named Adoniram Smith from both a flood and his cruel aunt and uncle. Realizing that the boy is lonely, they convince Mr. Bean’s inventor brother Benjamin to make him a friend: a wooden robot operated by clockwork. When the aunt and uncle show up to reclaim Adoniram, they mistake the clockwork twin for the real boy. As always, Freddy and friends are funny, flamboyant, and make for a great read. For ages 7-10.
For many more pig resources (including Freddy’s fan page), see PERFECT PIGS.
 images L. Frank Baum’s Tik-Tok of Oz (HarperCollins, 1996) – eighth book in the original Oz series – features Tik-Tok, a clockwork man, and Betsy Bobbin of Oklahoma, who ends up in Oz along with her friend Hank, a mule. For ages 7-11.
 imgres-12 John Olander’s steampunk-ish My Robots (Two Lions, 2012) purports to be notes on the robots made by genius inventor Lady Regina Bonquers III (who disappeared in 1972). The book is designed like a scrapbook, crammed with photos, notes, sketches, newspaper clippings, and souvenirs. A fun read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-13 By Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith, Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage (Quirk Books, 2014) features Nick and Tesla, 11-year-old sleuths who solve mysteries using science. In this book – one of a series – they nab a criminal mastermind using robots. Instructions for building four different robots are included in the book, among them the Semi-Invisible Bottle Bot, for which you’ll need (among other things) two wire coat hangers and a 2-liter plastic water bottle. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-14 Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic, 2007) features 12-year-old Hugo, an orphan who lives secretly in the Paris train station, an incredible automaton in the form of a writing man, and Georges Melies, a master of early silent film. A terrific read for ages 9-12.
 imgres-15 Hugo, the 2011 film version of the book, was directed by Martin Scorsese. Rated PG.
 images-1 Selznick’s automaton is based on The Writer, an automaton built by Pierre Jaquet-Droz in the late 1770’s and believed to be the oldest example of a computer.
 imgres-16 A similar automaton, Maillardet’s Draughtsman-Writer, dates to the same period. It is now in the Franklin Institute science museum in Philadelphia.
 imgres-17 Gary Blackwood’s The Curiosity (Dial, 2014) is the story of Rufus, a 12-year-old chess prodigy, recruited by a sleazy showman to operate a chess-playing automaton called the Turk. History, mystery, and suspense for ages 9-12.
 imgres-18 John Bellairs’s books are Gothic novels for kids: creepy, dark, and exciting. In The Eyes of the Killer Robot (Bantam, 1994), starring Johnny Dixon, evil wizard Evaristus Sloane plans to bring a robot to life – using Johnny’s eyes. Available for Kindle and at libraries. (If you get hooked, all the Bellairs books are available for Kindle. The series was continued by Brad Strickland after Bellairs’s death, but the Strickland books lack the snap of the originals.) For ages 9-12.
 imgres-19 In Evan Kuhlman’s Brother from a Box (Atheneum, 2013), Matt’s “brother” is a French robot named Norman, created by his genius computer scientist father. There’s humor and suspense – Norman catches a computer virus and goes nuts; a pair of sinister strangers attempt to steal him – but there’s food for thought here too. Matt, for example, discovers that Norman resembles a son his parents lost years ago. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-20 In roboticist Daniel Wilson’s sci-fi adventure A Boy and His Bot (Bloomsbury USA, 2011),  young Code Lightfall falls through a hole in an ancient mound in Oklahoma and ends up in the Greater Mekhos Co-Prosperity Sphere, inhabited entirely by robots. (It was set up centuries ago as a science experiment.) Now the deadly (and squidlike) Immortalis is attempting to take over both Mekhos and Earth, and Code – with a pair of robot friends – sets out to save both. He’s also searching for his lost grandfather. For ages 10-13.
 imgres-21 In Greg van Eekhout’s post-apocalyptic The Boy at the End of the World (Bloomsbury USA, 2012), Fisher – who may be the last living person on Earth – sets off on a quest with Click, the robot, a pygmy mammoth, and a talking prairie dog to find others of his kind. For ages 10 and up.
 imgres-27 In Helen Fox’s Eager (Yearling, 2006), set in a high-tech future England, Grumps, the old-fashioned robot belonging to Gavin and Fleur Bell’s family, is running down, and they can’t afford one of the new state-of-the-art BDC4s. A helpful scientist friend then loans them EGR3, known as Eager, an unusual little robot who is able to learn and feel emotions like a human child. Together, the children and Eager uncover a plot by the sinister BDC4 robots to rebel against their owners and take over the world. The book raises questions about what it means to be human and the dangers of technology. A discussion promoter for ages 11-14.
 imgres-23 In Kurtis Scaletta’s The Winter of the Robots (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013), set in Minneapolis, Jim – the narrator – sick of playing second fiddle to his science geek friend Oliver, has decided to partner for the science fair with Rocky, a girl who wants to study otters. Then, along with Oliver and his new science partner, Dmitri, the kids begin to investigate a peculiar junkyard (on the site of a former research company) and discover a population of fierce feral self-programming robots. To combat these, the kids create battle bots of their own. An exciting read for ages 11-14.
 imgres-24 Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot (Spectra, 2008) introduces the famous “Three Laws of Robotics:” (1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm. (2) A robot must obey orders give to it by humans except where such orders conflict with the First Law. (3) A robot must protect its own existence as along as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. He follows up with a terrific series of interlinked robot stories. Two sequels. Highly recommended for ages 12 and up.
 imgres-25 The 2004 film I, Robot is sort of based on parts of the book. Rated PG-13.
 imgres-26 The title story of Ray Bradbury’s short-story collection I Sing the Body Electric! (William Morrow, 1998) is a tale of how a robotic grandmother comes to comfort a family of grieving children. It’s a lovely story and if you can track down the 1982 television movie version – “The Electric Grandmother” starring Maureen Stapleton – even better.
 imgres-28 In Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives (William Morrow, 2002), protagonist Joanna and family move to the little town of Stepford where she soon notices that all the women are turning into gorgeous and submissive housewives. Feminist issues and robots. A cool read for ages 13 and up.
 imgres-29 In Philip K. Dick’s dystopic post-World-War-Terminus sci-fi novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Del Ray, 1996), Rick Deckard, the main character, is a bounty hunter, tracking androids – which is difficult, because the androids are nearly impossible to tell from human beings. (The crucial difference: androids lack empathy.) Decakard is also broke, and can’t afford an organic pet – the ultimate in status symbols. Instead he owns an electric sheep. A thought-provoking read for ages 13 and up.
The 1982 film Blade Runner is loosely (very loosely) based on the PKD’s book. Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard. Rated R (for violence).
 imgres-30 First, THIS IS NOT REAL, even though it looks real. A robot named Boilerplate did not charge up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders or visit the South Pole. Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett’s Boilerplate (Harry N. Abrams, 2009) purports to be the story of “History’s Mechanical Marvel” – a robot soldier named Boilerplate, invented in 1893, and subsequently sharing the stage with everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to Lawrence of Arabia. Wonderful creative graphics (and a testimony to Photoshop). For teenagers and adults.
 images-2 Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Penguin Classics, 2004) is the science fiction play, originally written in 1920, that first introduced the word “robot.” The initials stand for Rossum’s Universal Robots, a robot-making factory. Issues of justice, power, and the effect of advanced technology on humanity. For ages 13 and up.
Read R.U.R. online here.
 imgres-31 Best Robot Science Fiction is an annotated list of 25 favorite sci-fi books featuring robots.

READ ABOUT ROBOTS – Nonfiction

 imgres-32 Clive Gifford’s Robots (Atheneum Books, 2008) is an informative non-fiction account of the many different types of robots and their abilities. Learn about underwater robots, humanoid robots, medical robots, space robots, and spy robots. (An earlier version of the book cover was much friendlier, with a cute robotic giraffe.) For ages 5-9.
 imgres-33 Helaine Becker’s Zoobots (Kids Can Press, 2014) is a fascinating account of robots based on wild animals, with illustrations of the actual animal and its paired zoobot, and explanations of the zoobot’s structure and function. For example, learn about robots based on pygmy shrews, snakes, and jellyfish. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-34 Learn more about zoobots at Popular Science’s Animal Robotics and 5 Robots That Look, Act, and Are Designed Like Animals. (Robot sea turtles, hummingbirds, squirrels, fish, flies, and more.)
 imgres-35 Roger Bridgman’s Robot (Dorling Kindersley, 2004) in the Eyewitness series features a different robotic topic on each double-page spread, among these Fictional Robots, Robot Ancestors, Artificial Intelligence, Robots in Industry, Animatronics, and Cyborgs. Illustrated with wonderful color photographs. For age 8-12.
 imgres-36 Kathy Ceceri’s 128-page Robotics (Nomad Press, 2012) is a terrific introduction to the science and technology of robots. Included are a reader-friendly text, Fun Facts boxes, lists of words to know, and 20 great projects, among them a Wobblebot, a Passive Dynamic Mini Walker, and a Robotic Arm. For ages 8-12.
 images-3 By Gaby Wood, Edison’s Eve (Anchor, 2003) – subtitled “A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life” – is a reader-friendly history of robotics. The Eve of the title refers to Thomas Edison’s attempt to capture the American toy market with a talking doll. (He failed; the doll was creepy.) A thoroughly interesting read for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-37 Tom Standage’s The Turk (Berkley Trade, 2003) is the story of Wolfgang von Kempelen’s marvelous chess-playing automaton – a robotic creation that thrilled the world and inspired both the computer and the modern detective story. For teenagers and adults. (Also see Gary Blackwood’s The Curiosity, above.)
 images-4 From The Atlantic magazine, The Robot Will See You Now is a 2013 article by Jonathan Cohn on medical robots.
From How Stuff Works, How Robots Work is an illustrated multi-page explanation.
 imgres-38 Carnegie Mellon’s Robot Hall of Fame has pictures and information about each year’s “best” robots.
 ro.sm1 OLD robots! See Mechanical Marvels of the Nineteenth Century for such proto-robots as The Steam Man, The Automatic Man, and the Robots of Oz.
 imgres-39 From the RobotShop, History of Robotics is an annotated timeline of the history of robotics beginning with the ancient Greeks.
 images-7 A Brief History of Robots runs from Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (1921) through DARPA’s Pet-Proto and Legged Squad Support System (said to look like a warthog). Video clips accompany each entry.
 imgres-40 From Forbes magazine, 30 Great Moments in the History of Robots runs from the Babylonian clepsydra to the driverless car. Hyperlinked and illustrated.
 imgres-41 From The Tech Museum, Universal Robots: The History and Workings of Robotics is a detailed and illustrated overview.
 imgres-42 Kacie Kinzer’s Tweenbots are possibly the world’s most adorable robots. People help them cross the street.

BUILDING ROBOTS

 imgres-43 Aubrey Smith’s How to Build a Robot (With Your Dad) (Michael O’Mara, 2013) has 20 easy-to-make robotics projects, among them a robot suit and edible robots. Not clear why not “With Your Mom.” For ages 6-9.
 imgres-44 Sean Kenney’s Cool Robots (Henry Holt and Company, 2010) has instructions for building a lot of great LEGO robots (and spaceships). Illustrated with color photographs. For ages 6-10.
 1303695743m_SPLASH See Sean Kenney: Art with LEGO Bricks for more on Kenney’s books and exhibits of his LEGO creations.
 imgres-45 Daniel Benedettelli’s The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Laboratory (No Starch Press, 2013) has clear step-by-step instructions for building, programming, and experimenting with “five wicked cool robots!” For ages 12 and up. (See Robot Kits, below.)
 imgres-41 From Texas Tech University, Robotics Lessons and Activities are intended to form the backbone of a robotics curriculum, using LEGO Mindstorms. A well-done list of multi-part lessons.
 imgres-41 From Popular Mechanics, Build Your First Robot is a complete guide to building your own programmable robot from scratch.
 imgres-41 How to Make a Robot is a 10-lesson tutorial on robot-building for beginners.
 imgres-41 From TryEngineering, Build Your Own Robot Arm has complete instructions for building your own robot arm using everyday materials. Recommended for ages 8-18.

ROBOT KITS

 images-5 LEGO Mindstorms is a series of terrific programmable LEGO robots. See the website for kits, apps, downloads, and building instructions.
 imgres-46 OWI Robotics is a great source for robot kits of all kinds. For example, check out the Robotic Arm and the Moonwalker II.
 imgres-47 Arduino is “the microcontroller that launched a maker revolution.” What can you do with it? Check out this Popular Science article: One 12-Year-Old’s Quest to Remake Education, One Arduino at a Time.
Check out this very friendly Arduino Tutorial from MIT.
 imgres-48 By Michael Margolis, Make an Arduino-Controlled Robot (Maker Media, 2012) shows hopeful robot-builders how to do it. Also by Margolis, see the Arduino Cookbook (O’Reilly Media, 2011).
 imgres-49 The Hummingbird Robotics Kit is a spin-off from a research project at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE lab, whose mission was to create engineering and robotics activities appealing to middle-school-level girls and boys. The site has instructions, tutorials, sample robots, project ideas, and curricula. The kit costs $199.

ACTIVITIES AND LESSON PLANS

 imgres-50 See NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers for information about the robotic rovers. The site has pages for kids, students, and educators, with many activities and printable resources.
 imgres-50 NASA Rover is an online game in which kids program a virtual rover and steer it around obstacles.
 imgres-51 For many more resources on Mars, including instructions for building your own LEGO robotic rover, see MARS: FROM CURIOSITY TO BARSOOM.
 robot64 Robots for Kids has a history of robotics, a robot image gallery, robot video clips, online experiments with electrical circuits, lesson plan outlines, and quizzes.
 imgres-53 Robots is a terrific iPad app featuring a host of wonderful robots. Find out all about them.
 pr2_grasping_towel_v2_320w From Discovery Education, Robots is a lesson plan on how robots can help people with disabilities. Targeted at grades 6-8.
 imgres-54 From NASA, Robotics Lesson Plans has a long and interesting list, variously appropriate for students in grades K-12. Also at the site are downloadable educator’s resource and curriculum guides.
 imgres-41 From PBS Learning Media, What Is a Robot? is a lesson plan supplemented with QuickTime videos of several different kinds of robots, targeted at grades 3-5. (Requires registration.)
 imgres-57 Play Botball! This is a robotics competition of middle- and high-school-level students. Participants get a kit with reusable components to get them started building their robots.
 imgres-56 The downloadable (free) 4-H Robotics Curriculum is designed for all levels of expertise, beginner to advanced.

ROBOT ARTS AND CRAFTS

 imgres-52 Stephen T. Johnson’s My Little Blue Robot (Simon & Schuster, 2012) is a build-it-yourself book with which kids can made a talking (!) cardboard robot on wheels. All the pieces, of heavy-duty cardboard, are right there in the book. (No glue; the whole thing goes together with slots and tabs.) For ages 3-8.
 imgres-58 Make a great robot from a cardboard box! Viviane Schwartz’s Welcome to Your Awesome Robot (Flying Eye Books, 2013) shows how, via great cartoon illustrations. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-59 Ralph Masiello’s Robot Drawing Book (Charlesbridge, 2011) has step-by-step instructions for drawing a wonderful array of colorful robots. For ages 7-9.
 imgres-60 Robert Malone’s Recycled Robots: 10 Robot Projects (Workman Publishing, 2012) combines a delightful and informative book on robots with instructions and accessories for making ten great robots out of recycled materials. (You’ll have to supply the boxes, paper towel rolls, and plastic cups.) Fun and educational for ages 8 and up.
 images-6 Rob Ives’s Paper Automata (Tarquin Publications, 1997) is a collection of four working paper models (cut and glue together). For example, make hopping sheep and a pecking hen. For ages 12 and up.
 imgres-61 Keisuke Saka’s Karakuri: How to Make Mechanical Paper Models That Move (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012) explains the mechanism by which karakuri work (levers, cams, cranks, gears, linkages, and Geneva stops), describes basic paper crafting techniques, and includes five karakuri models to build, among them a tea-serving robot. For ages 12 and up.
 cando-robots-craft-photo-420-FF1108EFA01 From Spoonful, 10 Robot Crafts include some great tin-can robots, a robot in a bottle (a.k.a. “2-liter transporter”), and an aluminum-foil-wrapped robot.
 mask_3_robot_0 Robot Crafts from Activity Village include a cut-and-paste robot, edible cracker-and-vegetable robots, a robot costume, and a robot mask.
 robot-final1 From the MAKE website, see these illustrated instructions for making Cereal Box Robots.
 imgres-62 California artist Larry Wong builds robotic sculptures called Mechanoids from junk. Check them out here.
 imgres-63 Pittsburgh artist Toby Fraley builds wonderful robot sculptures from vintage thermos bottles and picnic coolers. See them here.

ROBOTS AND POETRY

 imgres-64 Kenn Nesbit’s poem, My Robot’s Misbehaving, comes from his book of children’s poetry, My Hippo Has the Hiccups (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2009).
 imgres-65 Scryf is a robot that writes poetry in the sand. (In Dutch.)
 imgres-66 By poet Robert Pinsky, see Death and the Powers: A Robot Pageant.
 imgres-41 Robotics Poetry is a great middle-school-level project that combines robots and poetry.

ROBOTS IN THE MOVIES

 imgres-67 Pixar’s animated film Wall-E features possibly the most appealing robot ever, a garbage-collecting bot left behind on an abandoned earth so buried in trash that life is no longer sustainable. Then Wall-E finds a growing plant – which alerts EVE, a reconnaissance robot with electric-blue eyes. Rated G.
 imgres-68 Robots (2005) is an animated film set in a world of robots, starring Rodney Copperbottom, brilliant inventor, who sets off to the big city to try to make the world a better place. Rated PG.
 imgres-69 Transformers! There are toys, cartoons, and a 2007 movie, Transformers. Rated PG-13.
 imgres-70 Robot & Frank (2012), starring Frank Langella, set in the near future, is the story of an ex-jewel thief whose son gives him a robot caretaker. The two develop an unlikely friendship. A wonderful thought-provoking film. Rated PG-13.
 images-8 Robots in Film has reviews, a robot photo gallery, and an extensive library of robot films, listed by year, genre, or robot.
 images-8 Androids and Robots in the Movies is a long, briefly annotated list, categorized by decade from the 1920s on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Math II

 

For resources for younger kids, see MATH I.

MATH WAR!

What to teach? How to teach? How much to teach? Does everybody need higher math?  Opposing theories and answers have led to what is now known as the “math war.”

 images Nicholson Baker’s “Wrong Answer: The Case Against Algebra II” appeared in the September 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine. Baker argues that higher math in the form of Algebra II is a major cause of school drop-outs; and that most people, for most professions, don’t need it anyway. The article is free to subscribers at the Harper’s Magazine website or can be purchased as a single issue here from Amazon.
 images What do you think? Wrong Answer challenges students respond to Baker’s essay, defending a position about whether or not high schools and colleges should require students to study higher math. Included is a list of guide questions and suggestions.
From the New York Times, professor Andrew Hacker’s Is Algebra Necessary? argues that for many of us, it isn’t.
 imgres Paul Lockhart’s A Mathematician’s Lament (Bellevue Literary Press, 2009) is just 140 pages long but it’s a powerful critique of math education as currently practiced. Lockhart writes, “Students learn that mathematics is not something you do, but something that is done to you. Emphasis is placed on sitting still, filling out worksheets, and following directions.” Instead, math should involve exploration, imagination, and creativity. For teenagers and adults.
 images-1 Mathematically Sane is a website devoted to promoting the “rational reform of mathematics education” – a topic about which there’s a lot of controversy.  The site has news, informational articles, research reports, relevant TED talks (including Conrad Wolfram on “Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers”), and more.
 images-2 See Dan Meyer’s TED Talk, Math Class Needs a Makeover.
 imgres-1 By John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences (Hill and Wang, 2001) is invaluable. Paulos explains, fascinatingly, just why a basic grasp of math – notably a familiarity with probability and statistics – is essential for making reasonable decisions about the world we live in. By the same author, see A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper and Once Upon a Number. For teenagers and adults.
For more by John Allen Paulos, see his website.
From the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initative, Standards for Mathematical Practice lists and explains them the recently adopted national math standards.
 images-1 The Best Evidence Encyclopedia, created by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, rates curricula and teaching approaches in math, reading, and science for elementary, middle, and high school students. Find out what the research says works. Useful for parents and educators. (Best approach for elementary-level math: peer tutoring.)
 images-1 According to the What Works Clearinghouse (Institute of Education Sciences), here’s what works in terms of math curricula. Saxon Math is way down the list. Top of the line is SRA Real Math (McGraw-Hill).

There are hundreds – thousands – of math books, math programs, and math curricula. See below for some of the best.

NOT JUST YOUR ORDINARY BOOKS ABOUT MATH

 imgres-42 In Mitsumasa Anno’s Anno’s Magic Seeds (Puffin, 1999), Jack meets a wizard who gives him two golden seeds, telling him to plant one and eat the other (“You will not be hungry again for a whole year”).  Jack does, and the seed grows into a lovely blue-flowered plant that produces two seeds. Eventually Jack decides to eat something different for a change, and this time plants both seeds, getting two plants and a harvest of four seeds. This time he eats one and plants three – and things rapidly multiply, becoming more and more complicated. For ages 4 and up.
 images-10 By Masaichiro Anno and Mitsumasa Anno, Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar (Penguin Putnam, 1999) is a wonderful introduction to the concept of factorials through the medium of a blue-and-white Oriental jar. The jar, opened, contains an ocean in which there are two islands. Each island has two countries; each country has three mountains; on each mountain, there are four walled kingdoms; and so on. A gorgeous multiplication problem ending up with a phenomenal number of jars. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-26 By Robert E. Wells, Can You Count to a Googol? (Albert Whitman & Company, 2000) is a counting book by tens (beginning with one banana, balanced on a nose) and moving up through 1000 (scoops of ice cream), 100,000 (marshamallows), and so on, ending with an explanation of the googol (a 1 with 100 zeroes after it) and how it was named by a nine-year-old boy. A googol, Wells points out, is much too enormous to illustrate (“If you counted every grain of sand on all the worlds’ beaches and every drop of water in all the oceans, that wouldn’t even be CLOSE…”). For ages 6-9.
 images-3 Emily Gravett’s The Rabbit Problem (Simon & Schuster, 2010) is a delightful month-by-month take on the Fibonacci series – which is named for the mathematician who first described it in the 13th century, while solving a problem about multiplying rabbits. First there’s one lonely rabbit (an invitation stuck to the page reads “Join me”); subsequent months feature baby rabbit record books, rabbit newspapers, carrot recipes, and – by November – wildly overcrowded rabbits. For ages 6-11.
  See Fibonacci’s Rabbit Problem for both mathematical rabbits and other challenges.
  See RABBITS for much more on rabbits, bunnies, and hares.
 imgres-2 Theoni Pappas is the inventor of Penrose the Mathematical Cat, featured in The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat (World Wide Publishing/Tetra, 1997) and Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales (1993).  Each is a collection of mathematical stories in which Penrose explores pancake world, meets a fractal dragon and a Fibonacci rabbit, discovers the golden rectangle and the world of Tangrams, visits the planet Dodeka, and more. Friendly introductions to interesting math concepts for ages 7-11.
 imgres-3 Author Cindy Neuschwander introduces kids to geometry through the adventures of gallant Sir Cumference, his wife, Lady Di of Ameter, their son, Prince Radius, and a cast of supporting characters. Titles in the series include Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (Charlesbridge, 1994), Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (1999), and Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland (2001). For ages 8-12.
 imgres-4 Cynthia Zaslavsky’s Number Sense and Nonsense (Chicago Review Press, 2001) is subtitled “Building Math Creativity and Confidence Through Number Play” – which it attempts to do by encouraging kids to fool around with number games and puzzles. Chapter titles include “Odds and Evens,” “Prime and Not Prime,” “Zero – Is It Something? Is It Nothing?” “Money, Measures, and Other Matters,” “Counting: Fingers, Words, Sticks, Strings, and Symbols,” and “The Calculator and Number Sense.” Figure out how many of what arrive over the Twelve Days of Christmas, solve the problem of the King’s Chessboard, play a Liberian stone game, and much more. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-5 Johnny Ball’s award-winning Go Figure! (Dorling Kindersley, 2005) is subtitled “a totally cool book about numbers,” and it is just that. Illustrated with great color photos, charts, and diagrams, the book covers the origins of counting, “magic numbers” (such as Fibonacci numbers, the golden ratio, pi, and Pascal’s triangle), geometry (including polyhedra, buckyballs, cones and curves, and symmetry), and “The World of Math” (including probability, chaos theory, and fractals). Challenging puzzles and questions and a great read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-6 Simon Basher’s Math: A Book You Can Count On (Kingfisher, 2010) – in classic snarky Basher fashion – personifies mathematical concepts as first-person entities, each with its own Japanese-style cartoon character. For example, here’s Subtract: “People often think I’m gloomy. Okay, I admit it, I’m the exact opposite of Add, that bubbly ball of smirking positivity.” Learn all about Zero, Line, Quadrilateral, Ratio, and X. And more. For ages 9-14.
 imgres-7 Math Trek by mathematician Ivars Peterson and Nancy Henderson (John Wiley & Sons, 1999) is a terrific interactive math book in ten short chapters, organized as an “amusement park” of mathematical concepts. Entry into the park – Chapter 1 – is through the Knot Zone; to get in, you have to figure out which of the knots that locks the gate is NOT a KNOT. Kids then experiment with knots (and non-knots) by duplicating patterns with string, find out how to make a trefoil knot (the simplest of mathematical knots) and a Jacob’s ladder knot (an impressive-looking non-knot) and learn a good deal about knot theory, its uses, and its history.  At the Crazy Roller Coaster – it’s a Mobius strip – kids make Mobius strip models, learn about topology, and see some interesting examples of topological artwork.  In other chapters, they learn about fractals and make fractal snowflakes, experiment with “weird dice,” build a chaos machine, learn to decode a binary secret message, and much more. Included are a glossary and a supplementary reading list. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-8 Glory St. John’s How to Count Like a Martian (Random House, 1975) begins with mysterious beeps from Mars – which might just be numbers. The book then covers a range of number systems, among them those of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Mayans, Greeks, Chinese, and Hindus, plus abaci and computers.  Out of print; check your local library. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-9 Actress Danica McKellar is also a math whiz, and is now known not only for movies and TV, but for educational advocacy, especially when it comes to girls and math. Titles of her informative, friendly, and funny books include Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math (Plume, 2008), Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss (Plume, 2009), Hot X: Algebra Exposed (Plume, 2011), and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape (Hudson Street Press, 2012). Readers learn math using friendship bracelets, shoes, shopping, pizza, and cute boys. And anyway, who can resist chapter titles like “How to Entertain Yourself While Babysitting a Devil Child” and “Creative Uses for Bubblegum”? For ages 11 and up.
 images-4 Clifford A. Pickover’s The Math Book (Sterling, 2012) is a fascinating chronological history of mathematics “From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension” in 250 double-page spreads, each illustrated with great color photographs. Actually it starts well before Pythagoras: the first entry, “Ant Odometer,” is dated 150 million BC. Other entries include Zeno’s Paradox, Archimedes’s Spiral, Franklin’s Magic Squares, Turing Machines, Rubik’s Cube, and Fractals. Something for everybody.
 imgres-10 Derrick Niederman’s Number Freak (Perigee, 2009) runs from 1 to 200, listing interesting facts and background information about each number. For example, at 23, you find out about the birthday paradox; at 46, you learn that there are 46 peaks in the Adirondack Mountains and that a “46-er” is someone who has climbed them all; and at 85, you find that there are just 85 ways in which to knot a necktie. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-11 By Alexander Humez, Zero to Lazy Eight (Touchstone, 1994) is an information-packed collection of essays, variously on zero, the numbers 1 to 13, and infinity. Readers learn about everything from numerical word origins to the mathematics of ciphers, bell-ringing, and dice games. Find out why we say “three sheets to the wind” and “dressed to the nines.” For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-12 When it comes to communicating complex concepts, analogies are often the way to go, and Joel Levy’s A Bee in a Cathedral and 99 Other Scientific Analogies  (Firefly Books, 2011) is crammed with nothing but. The book is divided into seven graphically creative sections, variously covering physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, earth science, the human body, and technology. For example, if an atom were the size of a cathedral, its nucleus would be the size of a bee. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-13 By author and mathematician Keith Devlin, Devlin’s Angle is a collection of monthly columns written for the Mathematical Association of America on math in everyday life and math education. Check them out.
 imgres-14 By autistic savant Daniel Tammet (author of Born on a Blue Day), Thinking in Numbers (Little, Brown, 2013) is a collection of 25 essays about seeing the world through numbers, with anecdotes and examples that range from haiku to chess, snowflakes, and Omar Khayyam’s calendar. Recommended for both math-loving and totally math-phobic teenagers and adults.
 imgres-15 Jennifer Ouellette’s The Calculus Diaries (Penguin Books, 2010), subtitled “How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse,” is a truly reader-friendly account of applying calculus to everyday life by a self-described math-phobic. Crammed with intriguing anecdotes and examples, from Disneyland’s spinning tea cups to speedometers, the Black Death, tulipomania, and the housing bubble. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-16 Larry Gonick’s 230+-page The Cartoon Guide to Calculus (William Morrow, 2011) covers all the basics with wonderful little cartoon illustrations and a sense of humor. Delightful, which is something I never thought I’d hear myself say about calculus. Chapter titles include “Speed, Velocity, Change,” “Meet the Functions,” “Limits,” “The Derivative,” and “Introducing Integration.” For all students of calculus.

THE LURE OF REALLY BIG NUMBERS

 imgres-23 Andrew Clements’s picture-book A Million Dots (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2006) indeed contains one million dots, along with a lot of catchy factoids to help readers visualize enormous numerical quantities. Readers learn, for example, that there are 525,600 minutes from one birthday to the next and that when the cow jumped over the moon, she soared upward 238,857 miles. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-21 In David Birch’s picture book The King’s Chessboard (Puffin, 1993), rice is used to teach simultaneous lessons in morals and the mathematics of big numbers. A proud and pushy king insists on giving his counselor, who doesn’t want it, a reward; the pestered counselor finally asks for a grain of rice, the amount to be doubled each day for as many days as there are squares (64) on the king’s chessboard. The king thinks this is a fine joke and sends one grain, then two, then four – but as the days pass and the doubling continues, soon amounting to humongous quantities of rice, he realizes that he has made a fatal mistake.
 imgres-22 In Demi’s version of the story, One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale (Scholastic, 1997), gorgeously illustrated with touches of gold, young Rani outsmarts a selfish raja and saves her hungry village with her rice-and-chessboard request. Here the rice is delivered by animals: birds, leopards, tigers, a goat pulling a cart, and – impressively, on day 30 – a fold-out page of 256 rice-toting elephants.
 imgres-17 Big Numbers by Mary and John Gribbin (Wizard Books, 2005), subtitled “A Mind-Expanding Trip to Infinity and Back,” traces the history of big numbers and shows how big numbers are used in a range of scientific disciplines, such as astronomy, biology, and geology. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-18 The Megapenny Project demonstrates big numbers with stacks of pennies, from a piddling pile of sixteen to a foot-square cube of 50,000 to a towering structure of a million.
 images-5 Powers of Ten: About the Relative Size of Things in the Universe is a film by Charles and Ray Eames in which viewers journey from the outer limits of the universe to the subatomic quark in 42 ten-fold steps. It’s a wonderful progression in color photographs, beginning with two picnickers in a park and moving outward through city, continent, planet, solar system, and galaxy; then inward through skin, cells, DNA, atoms, and subatomic particles. Fascinating for all ages.
Experiment with an interactive online version of Powers of Ten.
A Question of Scale is a clickable illustrated tour of the universe (“from quarks to quasars”) in powers of ten.
 images-6 Cosmic View, based on Kees Boeke’s classic 1957 books, travels to the ends of the universe and to the innards of the atom, beginning with a little girl with a cat on her lap. Includes detailed explanations.
 images-6 The View From the Back of the Envelope is a creative and multifaceted website on big numbers, featuring – among much else – a page displaying a million dots; a big-number Pinocchio estimation game; a guide for scaling the universe to a desktop; explanations of exponential notation; a list of “Powers of Ten” scales; and a demonstration of the scope of big numbers using grains of salt.
 images-7 The Stan’s Café Theatre Company’s installation exhibit Of All the People in All the World uses piles of rice to represent a host of human statistics. One person is represented by one grain of rice; the entire population of the world – that is, some six and a half billion grains of rice – by a 104-ton rice mountain.  Other piles of rice variously represent the population of the United States, the number of Americans who are millionaires, the number of people worldwide who play the computer game “World of Warcraft,” the number of people killed in the Holocaust, the number of people in an average year who go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. (And much more.) A fascinating exercise in statistics, a startling social commentary, and a powerful demonstration of big (and small) numbers.
 images-8 Though you can’t count to infinity, you can learn about it: Welcome to the Hotel Infinity includes a kid-friendly illustrated explanation of the infinity concept along with a clever short-story-cum-puzzle on a hotel with an infinite number of guests and rooms.
 Infinity Also see You Can’t Get There From Here , a reader-friendly explanation of the history, math, and philosophy of infinity.

HANDS-ON MATH

 images-10 From UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, Family Math, by Jean Stenmark, Virginia Thompson, and Ruth Cossey (Equals Series), promotes math as an enriching whole-family activity. This 300+-page information and activity collection promotes understanding of basic arithmetic, logical thinking, probability and statistics, geometry, measurement, and calculator math. The book also contains reproducible game boards, hundred charts, graph paper, and a fill-in-the-blank calendar. Great for a range of ages.
  Also see the sequel, Family Math II, for ages 5-12.
 imgres-19 In the same series, Family Math for Young Children (Grace Coates and Jean Stenmark; Lawrence Hall of Science, 1997) is a creative investigative approach to early math, concentrating on such skills as counting, estimating, comparing, measuring, shape recognition, directions, logic, and sorting. Sample activities include making jigsaw puzzles, making (and sorting) a stamp collection, making and playing number games, playing shadow games, measuring yourself (and family and friends) with adding machine tape, and designing a quilt patch. All instructions, game boards, matching cards, and number charts are included in the book. For each activity, there’s an explanation of the math skills involved, a materials list, and complete instructions. For ages 3-7.
  For more resources for younger kids, see MATH I.
 imgres-20 Family Math: The Middle School Years (Lawrence Hall of Science, 1998) concentrates on activities intended to inculcate algebraic thinking and number sense. Kids explore simultaneous equations with a game of Flowerpots; study area and perimeter with pentominoes and polyominoes; learn a series of clever tricks for quick mental arithmetic; study fraction/decimal equivalents with a game of Towers; tackle greatest common divisors with the Game of Euclid; and fool around with fraction calculators. Game boards and patterns are included in the text; there is also a list of additional family math resources and a description of the math concepts ordinarily covered in the middle school. For ages 10-14.
 imgres-21 By James Overholt and Laurie Kincheloe, Math Wise! (Jossey-Bass, 2010) is a collection of over 100 hands-on activities designed to promote “real math understanding.” For example, kids make toothpick storybooks and everyday things number books, experiment with paper plate fractions, and make flexagons, sugar-cube buildings, and paper airplanes. For ages 5-13.
 imgres-22 In similar format, see Judith Muschla and Gary Robert Muschla’s Hands-On Math Projects with Real-Life Applications (Jossey-Bass, 2009) for ages 7-10; and Joyce Stugis-Blalock’s Math Projects (Mark Twain Media, 2011) for ages 10 and up.
 imgres-23 Marilyn Burns’s dynamic duo, The I Hate Mathematics Book (Little, Brown, 1975) and Math for Smarty Pants (Little, Brown, 1982) are wonderful 120+-page illustrated collections of math puzzles, games, and experiments designed to show kids that math – rather than a series of rote exercises – is an inventive way of thinking. Determine how close you can get to a pigeon, take a shoelace survey, make a topological map of your house, make sidewalk chalk shapes that can be drawn without lifting the chalk from the sidewalk or retracing any line. Highly recommended for ages 8 and up.
 imgres-24 Ann McCallum’s The Secret Life of Math (Williamson Books, 2005) is an interactive history of numbers from prehistoric times to the present, illustrated with photographs of artifacts, puzzle and fact boxes, and timelines. In Part I, which describes mankind’s first forays into counting, kids make a tally stick with a chicken leg bone, learn how to count like a Zulu or a Roman, hold a native American nature count, and make an Inca quipu. In Part II, which covers the history of numerical symbols, kids make a cuneiform birthday tablet, learn to count in Egyptian hieroglyphs, and learn about zero and Fibonacci numbers. Part III leaps from counting to calculation: kids become “algorithm detectives,” tackle lattice multiplication puzzles, and make an abacus and a set of Chinese counting rods. Excellent for ages 9-12.
 imgres-25 Amazing Math by Laszlo C. Bardos (Nomad Press, 2010) in the Build It Yourself Series is arranged in four sections – Numbers & Counting; Angles, Curves, and Paths; Shapes; and Patterns – each of which features hands-on projects with instructions and templates, activities, interesting information in text and sidebars, and new word definitions in boxes.  Readers learn, for example, about Fibonacci rabbits, four-color maps, and Koch snowflakes, and discover that a potato chip is in the shape of a hyperbolic paraboloid. The projects are cool. For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-26 Claudia Zaslavsky’s Math Games and Activities from Around the World (Chicago Review Press, 1998) is a 160-page collection of multicultural math games, puzzles, and projects arranged by game category. Chapters include “Three-In-a-Row Games,” “Games of Chance,” “Puzzles with Numbers,” “Geometry All Around Us,” and “Repeating Patterns.” Kids can play 9 Men’s Morris or Mankala, experiment with hexagrams and Magic Squares, make Pennsylvania Dutch love patterns and Japanese Mon-Kiri cut-outs, and much more. Included for each game or project are background information, instructions, and “Things to Think About.” For ages 9 and up.
 imgres-27 Mark Wahl’s A Mathematical Mystery Tour (Prufrock Press, 2008) is an interactive exploration of numbers in nature and art. For example, discover Fibonacci numbers in pinecones, daisies, and pineapples; learn about spiral galaxies and Plato’s polyhedra; and study geometry while building a model of the Great Pyramid. For ages 11 and up.
 images-11 Hands-On Equations is an algebra program that uses fat red and green number cubes (representing positive and negative numbers), colored pawns (positive and negative unknowns), and a balance scale (printed and laminated) to teach kids how to set up and solve algebraic equations. Fun and clever for ages 8 and up.
 freedownload61 TOPScience sells multi-lesson modules of coordinated hands-on learning activities for grades 3-10 – and these are extraordinarily clever in that they do a lot with truly simply materials such as pennies, tape, clothespins, and paper clips. Click on “Math and Measurement” for  math-oriented units for a range of ages. Highly recommended.
 imgres-28 From UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, the GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) Teachers’ Guides use integrated activities to teach science and math topics. Sample titles include Frog Math, Early Adventures in Algebra, In All Probability, Math Around the World, and Math on the Menu.
 imgres-29 Hands-On Math Activities is a collection of printable games and projects, categorized under Numbers and Operations, Geometry, Problem Solving, Data Management and Analysis, and Measurement. For example, kids make and play pentominoes, experiment with geoboard sheets, build a Lego graph, and make and compare the capacities of paper cylinders. For ages 8-12.
 images-13 Hands On Math is a helpful blog devoted to creative ideas for teaching math. Lots of interesting approaches and activities for a range of ages.
  For older students, see Hands On Math in High School.
 images-12 From the Ohio Resources for Early Childhood, For Mathematics Educators is a list of helpful projects and resources including lists of Common Core math standards for grades K-12, large collections of “inquiry-oriented” math problems for a wide range of ages, and an annotated Mathematics Bookshelf.
 MathFourMakingUpNumbers-199x199 MathFour is a website devoted to creative approaches to teaching math. For example, kids can make Fibonacci Valentines, whip up a batch of mathematical eggnog, and research invented numbers (eleventeen?).
 images-14 From Annenberg Learner, Math in Daily Life is an interesting interactive tutorial covering Playing to Win, Savings and Credit, Population Growth, Home Decorating, Cooking by Numbers, and The Universal Language. Also at the Annenberg website check out the extensive list of great math lesson plans.
 images-15 Patterns in Nature is a collection of cool interactive applets demonstrating math concepts. For example, find out how to compute pi by throwing darts at a dartboard and discover what ants in an anthill have to do with molecular motion.

 MATH TOOLS

 images-16 The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives has a huge list of creative applets for preK-12, categorized under Numbers & Operations, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis & Probability. Anything you could possibly want, from pattern blocks and geoboards to fractal generators.
Check out the Ultimate List of Printable Math Manipulatives from Jimmie’s Collage.
 images-17 Math Playground has a lot of great online math manipulatives, among them a fraction scale, function machine, pattern blocks, geometry board, and spirograph.
 images-18 From MathCats, A Math Toolbox for Every Home is a great resource, with instructions for making your own base ten blocks, Cuisenaire rods, pattern blocks, tangrams, multiplication grids, and more.
 imgres-30 Also see Handmade Manipulatives Instructions for shape cutouts, base ten and five blocks, XY blocks, fraction strips, and printable pattern blocks, geoboards, and graph paper.
 images-19 At Mathwire’s Math Manipulatives, make your own dominoes and hundred boards. Included are instructions for games, activities, and literature connections.
 imgres-31 Learning Resources: Math is a good commercial source for math tools and manipulatives, such as base-ten and pattern blocks, Cuisenaire rods, geoboards, dice and spinners, and fraction games.
 CMT_Square From the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Core Math Tools is a downloadable collection of software tools for high-school-level students for problem-solving in the areas of Algebra and Functions, Geometry and Trigonometry, and Statistics and Probability.
 imgres-32 Math Tool Chest – in a collection of online “treasure chests” – has interactive tools for a wide range of math activities, including fill-in-the-blank tables, flipping coins, spinners, number lines, pattern blocks, place value blocks, and more.
 images-20 Johnnie’s Math Page has an extensive collection of interactive online tools, games, and manipulatives, categorized under Number, Geometry, Multiplication, Fractions, Statistics, Probability, and Measurement. There’s also a category called Fun, where visitors can play Alien Addition, tackle the Towers of Hanoi puzzle, and experiment with origami.
 imgres-33 Edutopia’s 11 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom includes free apps for base ten blocks, rulers, clocks, graph paper, geoboards, and more.
 imgres-34 From Math is Fun, Math Tools and Calculators has many online calculators with which visitors can calculate percentages, convert units, create graphs, experiment with polyhedra, solve quadratic equations, change fractions to decimals, and more.
 imgres-34 Wolfram Alpha aims to collect all objective data and to implement every known method to “compute whatever can be computed about anything.” Want to know how much paint it would take to cover the moon? Wolfram Alpha can tell you. A spectacular math tool.

MATH LESSONS

 images-21 Miquon Math is a curriculum for grades 1-3 in six color-coded workbooks, developed in the 1960s by Lore Rasmussen of Pennsylvania’s Miquon School. These are designed to be used with Cuisenaire rods and stress investigation, problem-solving skills, and creativity rather than rote drill.
 imgres-35 By creative math educator Marilyn Burns, Writing in Math Class (Math Solutions, 1996) has many examples of how writing helps kids of all ages learn math. Many suggestions, among them keeping math journals, writing math autobiographies, and combining math with creative writing. Resources for ages 7 and up.
 images-22 JUMP Math was designed by mathematician John Mighton (who almost flunked calculus in college), author of The Myth of Ability: Nurturing Mathematical Talent in Every Child (Walker & Company, 2004). JUMP, which stands for Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies, is a comprehensive program that integrates games, puzzles, magic tricks, hands-on activities, and extensions. Check out the free samples at the website. For grades K-8.
 images-23 Singapore Math, a comprehensive curriculum for grades K-12, progresses from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract – that is, it emphasizes translating problems into concrete and/or visual images to help younger learners understand concepts. Excellent reviews.
 images-24 Stanley Schmidt’s Life of Fred series offers a complete math curriculum from soup to nuts – or rather, from simple addition to Calculus, Statistics, and Linear Algebra. The books are set up in chapters, each telling a story about Fred, who teaches at KITTENS University. At the end of each story, kids grab a pencil and tackle a number of questions and challenges related to the story. Frequently these involve additional interesting tidbits and facts. The Fred approach is intended to be multifaceted and thought-provoking – the opposite, in other words, of the drill-and-ill approach so often found in school workbooks. Lightly disguised traditional math.
 imgres-36 By Asa Kleiman, David Washington, and Marya Washington Tyler, It’s Alive! Math That Makes You Squirm (Prufrock Press, 1996) – written by a pair of young computer geeks and a math teacher – is a hoot, crammed with zany problems based on the kinds of quirky facts and gicky trivia that kids adore. For example, readers calculate the number of earthworms in a football field, the probability of being eaten by a salt-water crocodile, the amount of liquid in a giant squid eyeball, the travel rate of eyelash mites, and the storage capacity (in megabytes) of the human brain. There’s a helpful answer key at the back of the book. For ages 9-13.
  A sequel, It’s Alive and Kicking (Prufrock Press, 1996) – subtitled “Math the Way It Ought to Be – Tough, Fun, and a Little Weird” – continues in the same vein, with problems based on sweat glands, rat litters, cow manure, and the number of rivets holding up the Eiffel Tower.
 imgres-37 By Harold R. Jacobs, Mathematics: A Human Endeavor (W.H. Freeman, 1994) is a ray of light in the grim gray field of textbooks. Math, Jacobs-style, is taught through puzzles, games, experiments, and enthralling real-life examples. Chapter 1, “Mathematical Ways of Thinking,” for example, plunges students into experiments with the behavior of billiard balls, the notorious four-color map problem, and the invention of the Soma cube puzzle. In later sections, readers learn about number sequences with the hexagrams of I Ching and Francis Bacon’s 17th-century diplomatic cipher; are introduced to coordinate graphing with the leaping speed of kangaroos; and learn about logarithms with the electromagnetic spectrum, the frets on a guitar, and the Richter scale. This is real math, and it’s great. Highly recommended for ages 13 and up.
 images-25 The Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) is an integrated four-year program, intended to replace the traditional math sequence in which kids progress from Algebra I to Geometry, then to Algebra II/ Trigonometry and Pre-calculus. Instead the IMP series teaches algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and probability in combination, through active investigation of “open-ended situations” – that is, problems without pre-programmed simple answers. In lieu of rote exercises, kids are encouraged to experiment and explore – often with manipulatives, graphing calculators, and computers. For high-school-level students.
  A derivative of IMP called Meaningful Math follows a more traditional format and employs graphing calculators.

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The Great Courses are a wide range of classes, variously available on video, DVD, audio CD, or audiocassette, for high-school- and college-level students. Among these is The Joy of Thinking (subtitled “The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas”), a 24-lesson lecture series, jointly taught by professors Edward Burger of Williams College and Michael Starbird of the University of Texas at Austin, whose stated goal is to both introduce some of the truly creative and intriguing ideas behind mathematics and to show students how to develop effective thinking strategies. The result is a wide-ranging discussion of counting, geometry, and probability, using clear and easy-to-follow presentations and lots of catchy examples. There are forays, for example, into Fermat’s Last Theorem, Fibonacci numbers in pineapples, Mobius bands and Klein bottles, Turing machines and Dragon Curves, coin-flipping, coincidences, and the question of whether monkeys, randomly typing, could eventually produce Hamlet.
 imgres-39 Suggested readings for The Joy of Thinking are taken from Burger and Starbird’s The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking (Key College Publishing, 2000), a very readable and attractively designed text reminiscent of Harold Jacobs’s Mathematics: A Human Endeavor (W.H. Freeman, 1994). (See above.)
 imgres-40 Annenberg Learner has some terrific resources for math, among them video courses (many available online for free), lesson plans, and interactives. Video courses include Against All Odds: Inside Statistics, Algebra: In Simplest Terms, and numerous workshops for educators on creative techniques for teaching math. Also at the site are extensive lists of categorized lesson plans (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and college) and a lot of great interactives. For example, kids can experiment with a balance scale, generate graphs, build a number line, manipulate congruent shapes, explore rotational symmetry, and much more.
 imgres-34 MathBits has a wealth of resources for math students, including tutorials on Java and C++ programming, projects and worksheets for the Geometer’s Sketchpad, instructions for finding your way around a graphing calculator, downloadable graph paper (31 kinds), and many Math Caching games at a range of levels, in which kids must solve problems and submit answers in order to discover the next Internet “box.”
 images-26 Mathcats is a multifaceted site that lets visitors experiment and explore. Try to solve a logic problem involving Sailor Cat, a goat, a wolf, and a cabbage; find out how old you are in seconds; play with architecture blocks; and use the Math Cats Balance to balance everything from electrons to galaxies. There are also dozen of interactive projects (for example, generate fractal snowflakes and geometric spider webs) and math-based crafts. Aimed at open-ended inquiry learning.
 imgres-42 Doodling in Math Class is the creation of Vi Hart, mathemusician and employee of Khan Academy. These are a terrific, fun, and irreverent collection of math-and-drawing exercises on such topics as spirals, fractals, Fibonacci numbers, and Sierpinski triangles. I love these. Check them out.
 images-1 From the Math Forum, Suzanne’s Mathematics Lessons are categorized under Numbers & Operations, Algebra, Data Analysis & Probability, Measurement, and Geometry. Most involve hands-on projects and experiments; also included are lists of helpful and creative Internet resources. Primarily for grade levels 6-8.
 images-1 AAA Math is essentially a gigantic free online workbook, with practice exercises categorized alphabetically by topic from Addition, Algebra, Comparing, and Counting through Ratios, Statistics, and Subtraction.
 images-28 IXL Math has a complete list of all the (hundreds of) skills required by the public schools at each grade level, with online practice problems and printable worksheets for each.
 images-1 SOSMath is an online workbook with examples and practice problems for high school and college students, variously covering Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, Differential Equations, Complex Variables, and Matrix Algebra.
 images-1 Free Math – which is free – has detailed lists of all the skills required in public-school math classes, categorized by grade, with associated practice exercises.
 imgres-43 The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) website has lesson plans, activities, and resources for students from K-12. Heavy in educationese.
 imgres-44 For online math classes for grades 3 and up, see Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a non-profit educational website created by Salman Khan (graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School) with the mission of providing a free, world-class education online to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Zillions of exercises, mini-lectures, and tutorials.
 imgres-45 EdX provides free online courses from such colleges and universities as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford in a wide range of disciplines (among them, math).

 GRAPHS

 imgres-46 What do the numbers show? The Real World Data Series from the Heinemann/Raintree Library is a collection of 32-page books that use real-world data – organized in charts, tables, and graphs – to introduce kids to current world issues. Titles include Graphing Food and Nutrition (Isabel Thomas, 2008), Graphing Crime (Barbara Somervill, 2010), Graphing Natural Disasters (Barbara Somervill, 2010), Graphing Water (Sarah Medina, 2008), and Graphing Sports (Casey Rand, 2010). For the complete list, see Real World Data. For ages 8-12.
 imgres-47 Edward Tufte’s stunning The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Graphics Press, 2001) – despite its not-very-exciting title – is a classic on the art of presenting mathematical data in graphs, charts, and tables. The book is packed with terrific historical and modern illustrations, demonstrating the best (and worst) in graphics. For teenagers and adults.
  For more on Tufte and his wonderful graphs, see The Work of Edward Tufte and Graphics Press.
  Check out 10 Best Books for Teaching Graphs. (For elementary-level kids.)
 imgres-48 At Kids’ Zone’s Create a Graph, visitors can select from five different types of graphs (line, bar, area, pie, and XY), enter data, label, preview, and print.
 imgres-48 Graphing Activities is a collection of 18 projects targeted at elementary-level kids. For example, kids determine preferred car colors by counting cars in a parking lot and graphing the results, or research the most common size of a family or the most disliked vegetable.
 imgres-48 Building Brilliant Bar Graphs has several projects in which kids collect data and make bar graphs, among them a pretzel taste test and a pet survey. Included at the site are printable worksheets. For ages 6-9.
  eNASCO is a commercial source for activity books and games involving graphing. For example, kids learn coordinate graphing by making picture graphs or geometry quilts.
  Also see Lakeshore Learning for commercial hands-on graphing materials. For example, make bar graphs with tiny colored cars.
 imgres-48 Teachnology’s Graphing Lesson Plans has a long list of activities and projects, plus printable graph paper and graphing worksheets. Sample lessons include All About Me Graphing, the Drawing Bugs Game, and Graphing Equations. For a range of ages.
 imgres-48 Carolyn’s Unit on Graphing has clear explanations of line graphs, bar graphs, scatter plots, and pie charts, with illustrations and examples.
 images-29 From the Biology Corner, Measuring Lung Capacity is a hands-on science experiment that involves data collection and graphing. (You’ll need a ruler and a round balloon.) Included at the site are worksheets, instructions, and sample data.

 PROBABILITY AND STATISTICS

 images-30 In Edward Einhorn’s A Very Improbable Story (Charlesbridge, 2008),  Ethan wakes up one morning with a talking cat on his head – who absolutely refuses to move until Ethan wins a game of probability. Ethan then struggles with challenges involving socks, coins, cereal shapes, and marbles, gradually learning how best to judge odds and predict outcomes. (The cat’s name, incidentally, is Odds.) For ages 7-10.
 imgres-49 By Sheila Dolgowich and colleagues, Chances Are (Libraries Unlimited, 1995) is a 125-page collection of hands-on activities in probability and statistics. For ages 8-13.
 imgres-50 Darrell Huff’s 144-page How to Lie With Statistics (W.W. Norton, 1993) is a funny, friendly, and informative overview of statistics and the way in which – if we’re not on the ball – they can fool us into drawing the wrong conclusions. Learn all about sampling and bias, deceptive averages, “gee-whiz” graphs, and more. Illustrated with vintage-style cartoons. For teenagers and up.
 imgres-51 Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon Guide to Statistics (HarperPerennial, 1993) covers everything from data display and analysis to distribution, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, and experimental design through the medium of clever (and highly intelligent) cartoons. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-52 Charles Wheelan’s Naked Statistics (W.W. Norton, 2014), subtitled “Stripping the Dread from Data,” is an overview of what makes numbers meaningful, dealing – in reader-friendly fashion – with such questions as “How does Netflix know what movies you like?” “What’s a batting average?” and “How useful is a GPA?” Various chapters cover correlation, basic probability, the importance of data, the Central Limit Theorem, polling, and regression analysis. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-31 From the New Jersey Mathematics Curriculum Framework, Probability and Statistics is a detailed and useful overview of what kids should know and do at each grade level (K-12), with suggestions for activities and resources.
 imgres-31 TeacherVision’s Resources for Teachers has a selection of printables and lesson plans for probability and statistics studies. Lesson plan titles include Heads or Tails: Penny Math; Using Scatterplots; Range, Median, and Mode; Baseball Fun; and U.S. Immigration. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-31 The BBC’s Handling Data has videos, written tutorials, and quizzes on frequency diagrams, mode, median, mean, and range, and probability.
images-32 Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Study of Chance is a lesson in probability involving paper, pencil, two players, and a pair of hands.
  Try Rock, Paper, Scissors: You vs. the Computer.
  Up for a challenge? Try Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.
 images-34 From Science Buddies, Probability and Playing Cards has several probability projects and activities aimed at family groups, variously using playing cards, M&Ms, and dice.
  Also see Scientific American’s Suited Science: What Are the Odds of Drawing That Card?
 imgres-31 From Cut the Knot, Probability Problems has a detailed tutorial with definitions, explanations, and a long list of challenging problems. For older students.
 imgres-31 From the extensive Core Knowledge website, Probability and Statistics is a multi-lesson study with recommended resources and instructions for ages 9-13. Included is a project to collect and analyze data on the “Top Movies of All Time.”
 imgres-40 From Annenberg Learner, Against All Odds: Inside Statistics, consists of 32 video modules plus coordinated guides. Available online or on DVD. For high-school-level students and up.

 SUPER-GOOD GAMES

 images-35 Set, “the family game of visual perception,” is a diabolically clever exercise in mathematical thinking. It’s a (deceptively) simple card game, consisting of 81 cards, each printed with one of three basic shapes: a diamond, a lozenge, or a fat squiggle. On each card, the shapes appear in different numbers, colors, and shadings. To play, the dealer lays out 12 cards, face up, and all players attempt to identify three cards that make a set: that is, three cards in which each feature (shape, number, color, shading) is either exactly the same or completely different. When you’ve managed to do so, you yell “Set!” and remove those three cards from the board; the dealer then adds three new cards and the set-search begins again. Everybody plays at once, which means that nobody has a chance to get bored, and the game is considerably more challenging than it first appears. It is appropriate for persons aged 5 through adult, and adults – believe me – have no advantages over younger players.
 images-31 Chess might be the ideal teaching tool. It’s all about strategy and patterns, lines and angles, spatial analyses, weighing options and making decisions.  Research shows it boosts academic achievement, but it’s also challenging and fun. Also Harry Potter played it.
 images-31 Doubtless one reason that it’s so successful is that it’s self-empowering – players figure a lot of it out on their own – and it provides a range of intellectual benefits without overtly trying to do so. Recommended age for introducing chess to kids is around 8 or 9, but there are no hard and fast rules.
 images-31 ChessKid has a tutorial on playing chess targeted at kids; young players can also sign up (safely) to play with others online.
 imgres-53 Sudoku puzzles are applied logic puzzles, played on a 9×9 grid, with nothing more than a pencil (eraser also highly recommended) and brains. The puzzle grid is subdivided into nine 3×3 blocks or regions; the trick is to enter the numbers 1 through nine (with no repetition) in each horizontal row, vertical column, and block. (“Sudoku” or “su doku” means “numbers singly” in Japanese.) In each puzzle, a few number clues are present on the grid – these cannot be changed and players must work with and around them while solving the puzzle. Sudoku puzzles range in difficulty from the easy to the fiendish; and all are excellent and mind-expanding exercises in the art of logical thinking. (This isn’t arithmetic. It’s more like chess.)
 imgres-53 There are many books of sudoku available, including some specifically for children – see, for example, Alastair Chisholm’s The Kids’ Book of Sudoku 1 (Simon & Schuster, 2005).
 imgres-53 Web Sudoku offers zillions of puzzles – variously classified as easy, medium, hard, and evil – that can be printed or played online. Also see Gamehouse Sudoku, which has online puzzles at five levels of difficulty.
 images-33 Coolmath4Kids, in eye-searing day-glo colors, has dozens of categorized math games, geometry/art projects, printable flash cards, dozens of online calculators, cool apps, and more.
 images-36 Math Playground has dozens of online math games, variously involving numbers, logic, math manipulatives, and word problems, along with interactive projects, worksheets and flashcards, and more. Click on “Common Core Math” to find grade-by-grade games and challenges aligned to the Common Core.
 images-37 PBSKids’ selection of Math Games includes dozens, among them Juggling George, Send in the Trolls, Star Swiper, Vegetable Planting, the Great Shape Race, and many more. Experiment.

MATH AND FICTION

 imgres-55 A collaboration of author Jon Scieszka and artist Lane Smith, Math Curse (Viking, 1995) is clever, funny, and thought-provoking. The curse – laid on the hapless narrator by her math teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci – causes her to think of everything (everything, from getting dressed in the morning to lunchtime pizza to birthday cupcakes) as a math problem. For ages 7 and up.
 images-38 In Pam Calvert’s The Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin (Charlesbridge, 2006), the crown prince Peter has turned ten and Rumpelstiltskin is back, demanding payment for all that straw he spun into gold. Furthermore, he’s armed with a multiplying stick that he uses to awful effect, making things disappear (by multiplying them by fractions) or making them awkwardly big (say, by multiplying noses by six). Luckily Peter solves the problem with a clever math trick. Also see the sequel, The Multiplying Menace Divides. For ages 7-10.
  Multiplying Menace is an activity guide to accompany the book.
 images-44 In Edward Eager’s Half Magic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999), Jane finds a magic talisman that grants just half of every wish. She and her siblings – Mark, Katherine, and Martha – find that this makes for some complications. A great read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-56 In Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth (Bulleseye Books, 1988), Milo passes through the Phantom Tollbooth and ends up in a magical country where he sets out on a quest to find the sisters Rhyme and Reason, thus restoring peace to the warring kingdoms of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. A wonderful cast of characters and a lot of brilliant play on words and numbers. A must-read for ages 8-12.
 imgres-57 In The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Metropolitan Books, 1997), Robert, twelve, loathes Mr. Bockel, his math teacher, who refuses to let him use his calculator and who afflicts him with word problems, such as: “If 2 pretzel makers can make 444 pretzels in 6 hours, how long does it take 5 pretzel makers to make 88 pretzels?” (“How dumb can you get?” said Robert.) Then one night Robert falls asleep and meets the Number Devil, a little bright red man the size of a grasshopper, dressed in knickers and carrying a silver-knobbed walking stick. The Devil, who has his own calculator (it’s slimy and green), introduces Robert – night by night – to the many fascinations of mathematics. Among these are the concept of infinity, “prima donna” numbers (those uppity primes that can only be divided by themselves and 1), repeating fractions, square roots, triangular numbers, Fibonacci numbers (and rabbits), factorials, topology, irrational numbers, and more. Humor, memory-sticking mathematical information, and a lot of terrific color illustrations for ages 10 and up.
 images-40 Twelve-year-old Willow Chance of Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s (Dial, 2013) is a scientific genius who loves gardens, books, and the number 7, but doesn’t have much luck with her peers. Then her adoptive parents are killed in a car crash and she’s left completely on her own – except for new friends Mai and Quang-ha, who live with their mother, Pattie, who has a manicure business, in a garage; her disturbed school counselor Dell Duke, and Jairo Hernandez, a Mexican taxi driver. A great story, interspersed with counting by sevens, for ages 10 and up.
 images-41 By the fictious Malba Tahan, The Man Who Counted (W.W. Norton & Company, 1993) is the Arabian-Nights-style tale of Beremiz Samir – a.k.a. the Man Who Counted – first encountered sitting on a rock by the side of the road, calling out mysterious and enormous numbers. The book, which purports to be Samir’s life story, is actually a series of puzzles: in one story, for example, Samir has to help three quarreling brothers settle their inheritance (35 camels, of which their father has left half to the oldest son, 1/3 to the middle son, and 1/9 to the youngest).  In another, he has to determine the eye color of veiled concubines (the blue-eyed ones always lie and the brown-eyed ones always tell the truth). For ages 10 and up.
  Read The Man Who Counted online here.
 imgres-58 In Wendy Lichtman’s Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra (Greenwillow Books, 2008), eighth-grader Tess sees the world in terms of math – in this case including tangles with friends, a school cheating scandal, and a mysterious death. Chapter titles are all math terms, such as “Inequalities,” “Graphs,” “Tangents,” and “The Quadratic Equation.” For ages 10-14.
 images-43 Edwin Abbot’s classic Flatland (Dover Publications, 1992), originally written in 1884, is a clever satire set in a two-dimensional world, where the women are lines and the men, polygons. The narrator, a Square, then meets a Sphere and discovers the third dimension. Not only math, but a critique of rigid Victorian society. For teenagers and adults.
  At Project Gutenberg, the complete text of Flatland is available online.
 images-42 Flatland: The Movie (2007) is an excellent 34-minute animation, voiced by Martin Sheen, Kristen Bell, and Michael York.
 imgres-59 For the bookish mathematician, Clifton Fadiman’s Fantasia Mathematica (Copernicus, 1997) is a collection of stories, poems, and excerpts all drawn from the “universe of mathematics.” Included, for example, are Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi short story “And He Built a Crooked House,” Martin Gardner’s “The Island of Five Colors,” George Gamow’s “An Infinity of Guests,” and poems by Vachel Lindsay, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Carl Sandburg. For teenagers and adults.
  Mathematical Fiction is a long (over a thousand entries) list of books and stories incorporating math and/or mathematicians.  For each title, there’s a synopsis, examples of math features, and a list of similar titles.

MATH AND ART

 imgres-60 Greg Tang’s Math-terpieces (Scholastic, 2003) combines art history and problem solving. Catchy rhymes propose mathematical puzzles based on paintings by 12 different artists, among them Degas, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Pollock, and Warhol. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-61 Carolyn Ford Brunetto’s MathART (Teaching Resources, 1999) is a collection of art and craft projects involving math, categorized under Geometry, Numbers and Computation, Measurement, Patterns, Statistics, and Fractions. For example, kids make geometrical stained glass windows and symmetrical pop-up cards, an abacus, a measurement mobile, and a fraction flag. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-62 Zachary Brewer’s Math Art (CreateSpace, 2010) isn’t art – it’s hands-on math; but it’s a plus for those who believe in learning by doing. For example, kids make paper clocks with moveable hands, money boards, addition collages, fraction flowers, and number charts. For ages 6-9.
 images-16 Math Playground’s Pattern Blocks has online blocks in an array of geometric shapes with which kids can build patterns of all kinds.
 imgres-63 From Mathcats, at the Polygon Playground, visitors can make patterns, tessellations, symmetrical designs, and pictures with a range of colorful geometric shapes in various sizes.
 imgres-64 Math and the Art of M.C. Escher is an interactive online book on the mathematics of Escher’s work with associated student art projects. Topics covered include symmetry, frieze patterns, tessellations, polygons, fractals, and knot theory. For teenagers and up.
  The Incredible Tessellations Page has detailed information, great illustrations, and links to lessons and online tutorials.
  From Mathematics in the Middle School, Masterpieces in Mathematics is an article on using art to teach fractions, decimals, and percents.
 imgres-65 At History of Mazes and Labyrinths, learn about the history of mazes from ancient times on, design your own mazes, and solve maze puzzles.
 images-45 Tie knots! At the Knots Gallery, learn to make sixteen different kinds of knots with easy-to-follow colorful animations. (Also included: how to tie a tie.)
 imgres-66 At Snowshoes and Math, see how artist Simon Beck makes spectacular mathematical pictures in the snow.
 imgres-67 Maths2Art has instructions for an assortment of hands-on mathematical art projects variously based on circles, Islamic art, tessellations, Fibonacci numbers, right triangles, and more.
 images-46 MathArtFun sells books, puzzles, kits, and manipulatives related to math and art. A source for fractal and knot puzzles, polyhedral kits, Penrose tiles, and more.

MATH AND COOKING

 images-47 In Amy Axelrod’s Pigs in the Pantry (Aladdin, 1999), Mrs. Pig is sick in bed, so Mr. Pig and kids decide to make her a tempting pot of Firehouse Chili. Unfortunately measuring mistakes lead to disasters, including the arrival of real firefighters. Included is a recipe so you can see where Mr. Pig went so wrong. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-68 Deborah Hopkinson’s picture book Fannie in the Kitchen (Aladdin, 2004) – subtitled “The Whole Story from Soup to Nuts of How Fannie Farmer Invented Recipes with Precise Measurements” – is told from the point of view of young Marcia Shaw, who is not exactly pleased when Fannie Farmer comes to cook for her family’s Victorian household. Soon, though, she’s hooked on Fannie’s delicious meals and even has a hand in writing the famous Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-69 In Ann McCallum’s Eat Your Math Homework (Charlesbridge, 2011), kids learn math concepts while whipping up Fibonacci Snack Sticks, Fraction Chips, Tangram Cookies, Tessellation Brownies, Variable Pizza Pi, and Probability Trail Mix. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-70 Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond’s The Math Chef (John Wiley & Sons, 1997) teaches math through applesauce, waffles, homemade animal crackers, and banana muffins. The book is divided into four main parts, each devoted to a different math concept: Measuring, Arithmetic, Fractions and Percents, and Geometry. For example, kids learn how to figure out how many grams are in a pound of potatoes, how to triple a sandwich recipe, and how to calculate the area of a brownie, the diameter of a cupcake, and the circumference of a pie. For ages 9-12.
 images-48 From PBS, Math and Science Gumbo, hosted by the Kitchen Mathematician, uses food and cooking to teach math and science. Math concepts include unit pricing, fractions, estimation, units of measure, and so on. Episodes (among them “Grocery Shop,” “Bake Shop,” and “Pizza Shop”) are available online.
See COOKING for many more books, projects, and resources for curious cooks.

MATH IN THE MOVIES and on TV

 imgres-71 Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) is a clever 27-minute animated film on math in real life – in music, in nature, in games like chess and baseball, and in architecture and art. Nominated for an Oscar.
Watch Donald in Mathmagic Land on YouTube.
 imgres-72 Simon Singh’s The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Bloomsbury USA, 2013) shows how the popular (and hilarious) animated series “The Simpsons” is simply loaded with math. Singh uses the episodes as jumping-off points to discuss everything from calculus to baseball statistics. A fun mathematical read for teenagers and adults.
Simpson’s Math covers the math in the Simpson’s episodes, with episode-by-episode descriptions and associated problems and worksheets.
 imgres-73 The TV series, Numb3rs – which ran for six seasons, 2005-2010 – features a pair of crime-fighting brothers in Los Angeles, one an FBI agent, the other a mathematical genius. An exciting pitch for math.
 imgres-74 Keith Devlin’s The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS (Plume, 2007) discusses the real math involved in criminal investigation, covering such topics as geographic profiling, data mining, codes, and networks. A catchy reader-friendly read for teenagers and adults.
From Cornell University, Numb3rs Math Activities has background info, materials, and projects based on each episode of the series. For advanced math students.
From Wolfram Research, The Math Behind Numb3rs has episode-by-episode descriptions with links to descriptions and explanations of specific math features in each.
 imgres-75 Dimensions is a gorgeous film in nine 13-minute “chapters,” beginning with Hipparchus, stereographic projections, and maps of the world and proceeding through M.C. Escher, four-dimensional polytopes, complex numbers, “fibration,” and mathematical proofs. Free download. For teenagers and adults.
 images-49 Math in the Movies, aimed at seventh-graders, is subtitled “Motivating Students with the Silver Screen.” Included at the site are a list of movies and sample suggestions for associated math projects.
 images-49 From MathBits, Math in the Movies has a long list of movies that in some way feature math, with summaries and printable worksheets to accompany each. Categorized by grade level (for the math, not the movie). Most worksheets are targeted at middle- and high-school-level students. Among the movies: Alice in Wonderland, Contact, October Sky, and Proof.
 images-49 The Math in the Movies Page is an opinionated guide to movies (and plays) “with scenes of real mathematics,” with brief reviews and ratings both for math presentation and overall performance. A Beautiful Mind (2001), for example, starring Russell Crowe as brilliant mathematician John Nash, gets 3 stars for Math and five stars for Film; Good Will Hunting (1997), the story of a young math genius from South Boston (Matt Damon) and a helpful psychologist (Robin Williams), scores one star for Math and three for Film.
 images-49 The Mathematical Movie Database is a long (long) alphabetized list of math-containing movies. Included is a separate much shorter list of “must-see” math movies.
 images-49 Mathematics in the Movies has video clips of essential scenes from a long and interesting list of movies featuring math.

MATHEMATICAL POETRY

 imgres-76 A must-read for the mathematically frustrated, Carl Sandburg’s poem Arithmetic begins “Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head.”
 imgres-77 Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Marvelous Math (Simon & Schuster, 2001) is an illustrated collection of poems about math by a range of poets – among them “Counting Birds” by Felice Holman, “Pythagoras” by Madeleine Comora, and “Nature Knows Its Math” by Joan Bransfield Graham. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-78 Theoni Pappas’s Math Talk (Wide World Publishing, 1993) is a collection of 25 mathematical poems for two voices, covering everything from circles, fractals, and zero to Mobius strips, tessellations, googols, and infinity. For ages 7 and up.
 imgres-79 J. Patrick Lewis’s Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2012) is a collection of math puzzles presented through parodies of classic poems by such poets as Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, A.A. Milne, Langston Hughes, and Ogden Nash. “Elephant with Hot Dog,” for example, was inspired by Edward Lear’s “There Was an Old Man with a Beard:” “When an elephant sat down to order/A half of a third of a quarter/Of an eighty-foot bun/And a frankfurter, son/Was it longer than three feet, or shorter?” For ages 7-11.
For much more math poetry (or science poetry, history poetry, and geography poetry), see POETRY II.

FAMOUS MATHEMATICIANS

 imgres-80 Deborah Heiligman’s The Boy Who Loved Math (Roaring Brook Press, 2013) is a delightful picture-book biography of Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos who loved numbers from the time he was a toddler. (Tell him your birthday and he could tell you how many seconds you’d been alive.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-81 Jennifer Berne’s On a Beam of Light (Chronicle Books, 2013) is a picture-book biography of Albert Einstein, charmingly illustrated in pen-and-ink and watercolor. Kids learn about Einstein’s early fascination with a compass (“Suddenly he knew there were mysteries in the world…”) and how – one day while riding his bicycle – he wondered what it would be like to ride on a beam of light. Eventually he grew up to theorize about atoms, mass, and energy, and to devise his famous Theory of Relativity. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-82 Joseph D’Agnese’s Blockhead (Henry Holt and Company, 2010) is a charmingly illustrated picture-book biography of Leonardo Fibonacci – the daydreaming medieval “blockhead” (and famous mathematician) whose astute observations of numbers in nature led to the discovery of the “Fibonacci series.” Pictures show Fibonacci happily counting pomegranate and sunflower seeds, flower petals, and seashell chambers; text includes a beautifully clear description of his signature number pattern. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-83 For more on the Fibonacci sequence for the same age group, see Sarah Campbell’s Growing Patterns (Boyds Mill Press, 2010), illustrated with gorgeous (and countable) color photographs; and Ann McCallum’s Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2007), a tale of a wizard, the Pied Piper, a lot of rabbits, and a clever little girl named Amanda. Also see Emily Gravett’s The Rabbit Problem (above). (For Fibonacci rabbit lesson plans, see http://annmccallumbooks.com/books/rabbits-rabbits-everywhere/.)
 imgres-84 Julie Glass’s  A Fly on the Ceiling (Random House, 1998) is a Step-Into-Reading book about French mathematician Rene Descartes and his discovery of the Cartesian system of coordinates. For ages 7-9.
  Play Cartesian Battleships! This site has instructions and printable grid paper (four quadrants).
 imgres-85 By Julie Ellis, What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? (Charlesbridge, 2004) is a fictionalized picture-book account of the famous Greek mathematician.  Here Pythagoras, a curious young boy, travels to Egypt with his father, learns about right triangles, and comes up with the Pythagorean theorem. For ages 7-10
  This YouTube video shows how to make a rope triangle of the sort used to solve problems in What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras?
 imgres-86 Also see the sequel, Pythagoras and the Ratios (Charlesbridge, 2010), in which Pythagoras and his cousins want to win a music contest, but their pipes and lyres sound awful. Pythagoras saves the day by elucidating the mathematical ratio that creates harmony. For ages 7-10.
 imgres-87 By Luetta Reimer and Wilbert Reimer, Mathematicians Are People Too! (Dale Seymour Publications, 1994) is a collection of short friendly biographical stories about fifteen famous mathematicians, among them Thales (“Pyramids, Olives, and Donkeys”), Archimedes (“The Man Who Concentrated Too Hard”), Blaise Pascal (“Count on Pascal”), Sophie Germain (“Mathematics at Midnight”), and Srinivasa Ramanujan (“Numbers Were His Greatest Treasure”). For ages 7-12.
 imgres-88 See Mathematicians Are People Too! Volume 2 (Dale Seymour Publications, 1995) for another fifteen mathematicians, among them Euclid, Fibonacci, Descartes, Benjamin Banneker, Ada Lovelace, and Albert Einstein.
  The Ohio Resource Center’s Mathematics Bookshelf has chapter-by-chapter suggestions and printable worksheets to accompany both volumes of Mathematicians Are People Too!

 MATH AND SPORTS

 imgres-89 Titles in Ian F. Mahaney’s Sports Math series (PowerKids Press, 2011) include The Math of Baseball, The Math of Basketball, The Math of Soccer, The Math of Football, and The Math of Hockey. Each has an overview of the featured sport, measurements of the relevant playing field or court, and information on scoring or statistics. “Figure It Out” sidebars challenge readers to solve problems. Illustrated with photos, charts, and diagrams. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-90 The Math & Movement program, developed by math educator Suzy Koontz, is tailor-made for non-sitters.  Koontz describes the program as a “kinesthetic multisensory” approach to math that involves physical exercise (jumping, hopping, bending), dance, and yoga, plus an array of “visually pleasing floor mats” to teach and reinforce basic math concepts. Kids dance, wiggle, and leap their way through counting, skip counting, addition and subtraction facts, the multiplication tables, positive and negative numbers, and more. The Math & Movement Training Manual, which describes the program in detail, is available in paperback or eBook formats; the floor mats – clearly intended for schools – are pricey, but creative families can get around that. There’s always sidewalk chalk, paint, and duct tape.

 COMPETE?

 imgres-91 Take your math out for a spin. Tackle the Math Olympiad or participate in the MathCounts competition series!

 OR WHAT ABOUT A FIELD TRIP?

 imgres-92 Check out New York City’s National Museum of Mathematics.

 

 

 

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MATH I

 

How many? How big? How far? How long? And when should kids know what? From PBS, the Child Development Tracker has descriptions of what kids generally know and do, year by year, from ages 1 to 9, in the fields of Creative Arts, Language, Literacy, Mathematics, Physical Health, Science, and Social and Emotional Growth.

There are – literally – hundreds of books aimed at introducing just-beginners to numbers; check out some good resources below.

For resources for older kids, see Math II.

 

NUMBERS AND COUNTING

 images-4 There are several picture-book versions of the loved-by-everybody song/nursery rhyme “Ten in the Bed:” “There were 10 in the bed and the little one said/”Roll over! Roll over!’/So they all rolled over and 1 fell out…” David Ellwand’s Ten in the Bed (Chronicle Books, 2001) is illustrated with enchanting photographs of ten teddy bears (including one in a striped night cap and one in wire-rimmed spectacles). For ages 1-4.
 imgres In Donald Crews’s rhyming Ten Black Dots (Greenwillow, 1994), various numbers of black dots (from 1 to 10) can be anything from a sun and a moon, to the eyes of a fox, the face of a snowman, or beads “for stringing on a lace.” Illustrated with big bright graphics for ages 1-5.
Math Literature Connections: Number Sense has activities and downloadable cards, worksheets and charts to accompany Donald Crews’s Ten Black Dots, Theo LeSieg’s Ten Apples Up on Top, and Jerrie Oughton’s How the Stars Fell Into the Sky.
 images-1 Lois Ehlert’s Fish Eyes (“A Book You Can Count On”) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1992), illustrated with gorgeous bright-colored fish, makes for a great interactive read, with many fish and fish eyes to count, plus shapes and colors to identify. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-1 By Mitsumasa Anno, Anno’s Counting Book (Crowell, 1997) is an enchanting picture book that teaches the numbers 0 to 12 as a small village grows through the months of the year. The book opens with an empty snow scene (0); by 1, we have one house, one snowy pine tree, one bridge over the river, one snowman, and one skier; by 7, there are seven buildings, seven pine trees, seven spotted cows, a clothesline hung with seven sheets and, in the sky, a seven-colored rainbow. Delightful for ages 2-6.
 imgres-2 In Rick Walton’s rhyming So Many Bunnies (HarperFestival, 2000) – an ABC and counting book – Old Mother Rabbit, who lives in a shoe, is putting her 26 alphabetical offspring to bed, counting them one by one, from (1) Abel (who sleeps on a table) to (26) Zed, who sleeps in a shed. For ages 2-6.
For related books and resources, see RABBITS and ABC: The Alphabet (and Beyond).
 imgres-3 Janet Lawler’s Ocean Counting (National Geographic, 2013), illustrated with gorgeous color photographs, includes interesting “Did You Know?” fact boxes for each numerical group of ocean animals (starting with 1 green sea turtle). For ages 2-6.
 imgres-4 By Maurice Sendak, One Was Johnny (HarperCollins, 1991) begins with Johnny, who lives alone, happily reading by himself. Then a rat leaps in, followed by a cat, a dog, a turtle, and so on until an annoyed Johnny cleverly counts backwards, getting rid of his uninvited guests and restoring peace and quiet. For ages 2-7.
 images-2 Roger Priddy’s Counting Colors (Priddy Books, 2007) groups bright photos of familiar objects by color. Each color-coded spread challenges readers to count to ten, by finding 1-10 different objects – for example, (red) 2 roses, 4 fire engines, and 9 strawberries or (yellow) 2 bananas, 6 chicks, 7 lemons, and 10 rubber ducks. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-5 In Jean Marzollo’s I Spy Numbers (Scholastic, 2012) – illustrated with colorful photo spreads of appealing little objects – challenges readers to find numbers of items via little rhyming clues. Great for trips. For ages 3-5.
 imgres-6 For dinosaur lovers, How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? by Jane Yolen and Marc Teague (Blue Sky Press, 2004) features enormous dinosaurs perched on kid-sized beds and playing with kid-sized toys. Readers count to 10 beginning with 1 tattered teddy bear. One of a series for ages 3-5.
 imgres-7 Cynthia Cotton’s At the Edge of the Woods (Henry Holt and Company, 2002) is a rhyming counting book of woodland animals, beginning with “At the edge of the woods, the grass grows tall/The daisies dance and the blackbirds call/One chipmunk lives in the old stone wall/At the edge of the deep, dark woods.” An evocative numerical read for ages 3-6.
 imgres-8 In Louise Yates’s Dog Loves Counting (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013), Dog has tried counting sheep, but still can’t get to sleep – so off he goes to find other animals to count. He begins with one baby dodo, and together the two of them set off in search of number three – a three-toed sloth, followed by a four-legged camel, a five-lined skink, and so on up to ten. At the end of the book, all ten animals end up counting stars. Other books featuring Dog include Dog Loves Books (2010) and Dog Loves Drawing (2012). For ages 3-6.
 imgres-9 Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Book Ever (Sterling, 2010) counts by ones to twenty, then by tens to one hundred – all with Scarry’s busy little pictures in which there’s a lot to study and count. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-10 Paul Giganti’s How Many Snails? (Greenwillow, 1994) is a clever counting book that introduces kids to the idea of sets and subsets.  (How many clouds? How many clouds are big and fluffy? How many clouds are big and fluffy and gray?) The School Library Journal trashed it for ambiguity (What constitutes a truck? Will kids know that fire trucks are trucks?) – but I think that’s a plus. Discuss and debate. That’s what books are for. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-11 Woody Jackson’s Counting Cows (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999) is a simple 10 to 0 countdown counting book illustrated with Jackson’s signature black-and-white Holsteins. Readers learn lots of cow synonyms. (“Eight cool cattle.” “Six haying heifers.”) For ages 3-7.
For many related resources, see MOO: All About Cows.
 imgres-12 In Stioshi Kitamura’s When Sheep Cannot Sleep (Square Fish, 1988), Woolly, a pop-eyed little sheep in blue-and-white striped pajamas, can’t get to sleep – so off he goes for a walk, counting along the way, from one butterfly to two ladybugs, three owls, and four bats, up to 20 stars. Back in bed again, he thinks about his family – 21 relatives, all sheep – and so, finally, counting sheep, he falls asleep. Great watercolor illustrations. For ages 3-7.
Want more sheep resources? See BAA: Sheep, Yarn, Mobius Strips, and DNA.
 imgres-13 We’re all primates! Anthony Browne’s One Gorilla (Candlewick, 2013) is a counting book of primates, from 1 gorilla to 2 orangutans, 3 chimpanzees, and so on, through gibbons, macaques, and mandrills to 10 ring-tailed lemurs. The book ends with 20 portraits of people (“All primates/All one family”). Illustrated with wonderful detailed paintings. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-14 Alison Jay’s 1 2 3 (Dutton Juvenile Books, 2007) is a charmer, beginning with one sleeping little girl who is carried away on the back of a (golden-egg-laying) goose to an enchanting fairy-tale world, populated with three pigs, four frog princes, seven magic beans, and so on, up to ten and back again. Each wonderful illustration is filled with numbers and references to fairy tales. (Figure out which one.) For ages 4-7.
See FAIRY TALES.
 images-3 In Philemon Sturges’s Ten Flashing Fireflies (NorthSouth, 1997), a pair of children capture – one by one – ten fireflies in a jar, and then, as the lights begin to blink out, let them go (and glow) again, counting back down from 10 to 1. The illustrations are soft summer night scenes in pastels, with luminous balls of glowing fireflies. For ages 4-8.
f2ea045586d66d9f425428f2be62f196waxpaper_firefly Firefly Activities include making a wax-paper-winged fireflies, ice-cream-spoon fireflies, and a firefly keepsake jar. (Count them!)
 imgres-15 Alice Melvin’s Counting Birds (Tate, 2010), written in rhyming couplets, counts birds (1-20) over the course of a day, beginning at dawn with one cockerel, then two love birds in a cage, then three ducks. Readers learn 21 different birds (the book ends at evening, with one nocturnal barn owl.) For ages 4-8.
See BIRDS.
 imgres-16 By April Pulley Sayre, One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab (Candlewick, 2008) is a counting book of feet, beginning with the one-footed snail – then 2 (people), 4 (dog), 6 (insect), 8 (spider), and 10 (crab). Odd numbers are represented by an even-footed animal plus one snail. The numbers 10 to 100 are then represented by various combinations of animals – 80, for example, can be eight crabs or ten spiders. Cheerful cartoon illustrations. For ages 4-8.
Check out the Parents’ Choice Six Best Counting Books.
From The Best Children’s Books, see Learning Numbers with Counting Books.

BIGGER NUMBERS

 imgres-17 Rosemary Wells’s Emily’s First 100 Days of School (Disney-Hyperion, 2005) covers the numbers 1 to 100, with Emily’s daily number journal. Crammed with creative number ideas. (Make a number journal of your own!) Great project possibilities for ages 4 and up.
 imgres-18 Lola M. Schaeffer’s Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives (Chronicle Books, 2013), is a mix of biology and math, as kids learn numbers and cool animal facts from 1 to (with skips) 1000. For example, in a single lifetime, a spider will spin one egg sac, a caribou will shed ten sets of antlers, a woodpecker will drill 30 nesting holes in trees, a rattlesnake will add 40 beads to its rattle, and a pair of seahorses will produce 1000 baby seahorses. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-19 In Loreen Leedy’s Missing Math (Two Lions, 2008), all the numbers in town have simply disappeared – leaving behind a mess: clocks and calendars don’t work, money has no value, sports competitions and elections can’t be resolved, and nobody knows how old or tall they are. The culprit is finally caught: a number thief with a powerful vacuum, trying to make a number large enough to reach infinity. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-20 Christina Dobson’s Pizza Counting (Charlesbridge, 2003) covers counting, addition, large numbers, and fractions, all through the medium of creative and yummy-looking pizzas. Pizza toppings not only demonstrate the numbers 1-20, but are combined to make pictures, such as a pizza face, a pizza cat, a pizza clock. A pizza tricked out with 100 topping pieces is duplicated 10 times (to demonstrate 1000) and then 100 times (10,000); millions and biliions are discussed in terms of numbers of pizzas necessary to circle the globe or reach to the moon. Try pairing this one with making your own numerical paper or baked-in-the-oven pizzas. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-21 In David Birch’s The King’s Chessboard (Puffin, 1993), the king insists on giving his wise counselor a reward. Finally the counselor asks for a single grain of rice, the quantity to be doubled each day for as many days as there are squares on the king’s chessboard. The king soon realizes that he has made a dreadful mathematical mistake. For ages 6-10.
 imgres-22 Demi’s One Grain of Rice (Scholastic, 1997) is a gorgeously illustrated version of the same tale, set in India; Helena Clare Pittman’s A Grain of Rice (Yearling, 1995) is a Chinese version of the story, in which a mathematically clever farmer’s son wins the hand of a princess.
 imgres-23 Andrew Clements’s picture-book A Million Dots (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2006) contains one million dots, along with a lot of catchy factoids to help readers visualize crucial numerical quantities along the way. Kids learn, for example, that there are 525,600 minutes from one birthday to the next and that when the cow jumped over the moon, she soared upward 238,857 miles. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-24 In David Schwartz’s How Much Is a Million? (HarperCollins, 2004), kids learn about millions, billions, and trillions, with the help of Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician and a lot of clever analogies. Readers discover, for example, that it would take 23 days to count to a million, that a goldfish bowl big enough for a million goldfish could hold a blue whale, and that a stack of a million kids, standing on each other’s shoulders, would reach all the way to the moon. For ages 4-8.
 images-5 In David Schwartz’s On Beyond a Million (Dragonfly Books, 2001), Professor X and Dog Y (both in sweater vests) show kids how to count exponentially (by powers of ten). The book is appealingly designed, with conversation in cartoon bubbles and a lot of fascinating “Did you know?” side bars filled with numerical facts. For example, readers learn that one colony of weaver ants contains 500,000 ants, that there are 40,000 characters in Chinese, and that Americans eat 500,000,000 pounds of popcorn each year. Readers learn about the enormous googol (a 1 with a hundred zeroes after it) and the even more enormous googolplex (a googol raised to the power of a googol). However, they find that it’s impossible to count to infinity, and the book ends with: “No matter what number you have, there is always one bigger.”For ages 5-8.
 imgres-25 Robert E. Wells’s Is A Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? (Albert Whitman & Company, 1993), for ages 6-9, is a cleverly illustrated exercise in big numbers and relative sizes: For example, it takes about 12 minutes to count to a thousand, but a good three weeks to count to a million, and a lifetime to count to a billion; and yes, a blue whale is big, but it’s tiny in comparison to massive Mount Everest, which is tiny in comparison to planet Earth, which is dwarfed by the Sun, which is puny compared to the red supergiant Antares. For ages 6-11.
 imgres-26 By Robert E. Wells, Can You Count to a Googol? (Albert Whitman & Company, 2000) is a counting book by tens (beginning with one banana, balanced on a nose) and moving up through 1000 (scoops of ice cream), 100,000 (marshamallows), and so on, ending with an explanation of the googol (a 1 with 100 zeroes after it) and how it was named by a nine-year-old boy. A googol, Wells points out, is much too enormous to illustrate (“If you counted every grain of sand on all the worlds’ beaches and every drop of water in all the oceans, that wouldn’t even be CLOSE…”). For ages 6-9.
 imgres-27 In Kate Hosford’s Infinity and Me (Carolrhoda Books, 2012), young Uma – gazing at the star-filled night sky – grapples with the difficult-to-grasp concept of infinity. Family and friends all offer different takes on infinity, and eventually Uma comes to terms with it, realizing that her love for her grandma is “as big as infinity.” With gorgeous illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska. For ages 5-8.

 MATH SERIES BOOKS

 imgres-28 The Math Counts Series (Children’s Press) by Henry Pluckrose is a collection of 32-page books, each with a simple text and illustrated with attractive color photos, introducing a range of math topics. Titles include Numbers, Counting, Sorting, Shape, Patterns, Size, Length, Capacity, and Weight. For ages 3-6.
 images-6 Brian Cleary’s Math is Categorical series  (Lerner Publishing) includes such titles as The Action of Subtraction, The Mission of Addition, and Windows, Rings, and Grapes – a Look at Different Shapes. (See complete list at the website.) All are simple introductions to math concepts, with friendly examples, a rhyming text, and a lot of bright zany animal illustrations. For ages 4 and up.
 imgres-29 Stuart J. Murphy’s extensive MathStarts series is categorized by age group: Level 1 (ages 3 and up), Level 2 (ages 6 and up), and Level 3 (ages 7 and up). See the website for the complete list, with descriptions of math concepts covered.
 images-7 The Math Matters series (Kane Press) by various authors is a series of picture-book stories, each related to a specific math concept and variously targeted at ages 5-7 or 6-8. For example, Gail Herman’s Bad Luck Brad covers probability; Jennifer Dussling’s Fair is Fair introduces readers to bar graphs; and Linda Williams Aber’s Grandma’s Button Box is all about sorting. See the complete list of titles at the website.
 images-8 The Mouse Math series (Kane Press), variously by Eleanor May, Daphne Skinner, and Laura Driscoll, are picture-book introductions to simple math concepts for preschoolers, starring a pair of adorable mice, Albert and his big sister Wanda. Albert Is Not Scared, for example, covers direction words; Albert’s Amazing Snail emphasizes position words; and Albert the Muffin-Maker introduces ordinal numbers. See all the titles at the website.  Cute and funny.

 MATH CONCEPTS

 imgres-30 Suzanne Aker’s What Comes in 2s, 3s, and 4s (Aladdin, 1992) in a picture-book introduction to sets – starting with your own two eyes, two ears, two arms, and two legs. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-31 In Margarette S. Reid’s The Button Box (Puffin, 1995), a little boy gets out his grandmother’s enormous button box and begins to play, sorting the buttons into rows and piles – all the flower-painted china ones, all the sparkly jewel-like ones, and so on. There’s not much to it, but it would be great paired with an actual button box. (Got one?) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-32 Eve Merriam’s 12 Ways to Get to 11 (Aladdin, 1996) is a clever twist on the counting book, showing 12 different combinations of things that all add up to 11: 9 pine cones and 2 acorns, for example; or 4 flags + 5 rabbits + 1 pitcher of water + 1 bouquet of flowers, all pulled from a magician’s hat. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-33 In Kathryn Cristaldi’s Even Steven and Odd Todd (Cartwheel, 1996), Todd is definitely odd, in that he insists everything come out even, from his breakfast pancakes to the fish in his goldfish bowl. Then cousin Odd Todd arrives, who prefers his numbers odd. Eventually all works out – and the book ends with a handful of questions and simple activities on even and odd numbers. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-34 Michael Dahl’s Eggs and Legs (Nonfiction Picture Books, 2005) is a clever exercise in learning to count by twos, as a hen watches pairs of legs emerge from hatching eggs. Also see Dahl’s Lots of Ladybugs: Counting by Fives and Toasty Toes: Counting by Tens. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-35 In Lily Toy Hong’s Chinese folktale Two of Everything (Albert Whitman & Company, 1993), Mr. Haktak unearths an ancient pot in the garden that turns out, miraculously, to double anything placed inside it. He and Mrs. Haktak happily double their money (again and again), but then Mrs. Haktak herself falls into the pot. And doubles. For ages 4-8.
 images-9 In Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (HarperCollins, 2002), a pint-sized cowboy is caring for his flock of five ducks. Then each duck brings home a friend, which means twice as much food, twice as much bedding, and twice as much work. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-36 Cynthia DeFelice’s One Potato, Two Potato (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006) is an Irish version of the doubling story, in which Mr. and Mrs. O’Grady are so ragged and poor that they have only one of everything – one potato for dinner, one blanket on their bed, one chair to sit in, and one winter coat. Until, that is, Mr. O’Grady finds a magic pot, that doubles everything put inside. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-37 In Pat Hutchins’s The Doorbell Rang (Greenwillow, 1989), Sam and Victoria have just divided one dozen of their mother’s freshly baked cookies, when the doorbell starts ringing and more and more friends arrive. With each new guest, the dozen cookies must be divided all over again. An exercise in beginning division (and sharing) for ages 4-8.
 imgres-38 Paul Giganti’s Each Orange Had Eight Slices (Greenwillow, 1999) is a simple  picture-book introduction to counting, addition and, by extension, multiplication. (“On my way to the zoo I saw 3 waddling ducks. Each duck had 4 baby ducks trailing behing, Each duck said, “QUACK, QUACK, QUACK.” So: how many ducks, how many baby ducks, how many quacks? For ages 4-8.
 imgres-39 In Elinor J. Pinczes’s One Hundred Hungry Ants (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999), a tale of division, one hundred ants are headed toward a picnic when they are halted by one mathematically minded ant, who suggests that they will get food more efficiently if they split up into ranks. Obediently the ants rearrange themselves in groups of 50, 25, 10, and so on – only to discover by the time they’ve finished that the picnickers have packed up and left.  For ages 4-8.
 imgres-40 Also by Pinczes is A Remainder of One (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), in which the ants struggle to form even ranks to march in the big parade. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-41 Margaret Mahy’s rhyming 17 Kings and 42 Elephants (Dial, 1987) features a royal procession through the jungle in which 17 kings and 42 elephants meet a tongue-twisting array of animals. A fun romp with potential for problem-solving. (How to divide 42 elephants among 17 kings?) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-42 In Mitsumasa Anno’s Anno’s Magic Seeds (Puffin, 1999), Jack meets a wizard who gives him two golden seeds, telling him to plant one and eat the other (“You will not be hungry again for a whole year”).  Jack does, and the seed grows into a lovely blue-flowered plant that produces two seeds. Eventually Jack decides to eat something different for a change, and so plants both seeds, getting two plants and a harvest of four seeds. This time he eats one and plants three – and things rapidly multiply, becoming more and more complicated. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-43 Laura Overdeck’s Bedtime Math (Falwel & Friends, 2013) is a cute idea – if bedtime stories, why not bedtime math? Each chapter starts by with a kid-friendly topic – Lego bricks, dog-walking, cookies, sticky ketchup bottles – and then goes on to pose three math problems at increasing levels of difficulty. The reviews have been very positive. I, however, was disappointed – there’s not much in the way of math-interesting detail in the lead-ins, and the problems, though catchily worded, are workbook-type arithmetic problems. (“If you squirt 2 cups of ketchup and each cup used 14 tomatoes, how many tomatoes’ worth of ketchup did you just squirt?”) For ages 3-7.
 imgres-44 Greg Tang is a master of math riddles, and his books – written in catchy rhyme – encourage kids to identify patterns and combinations and to devise effective problem-solving strategies. Titles include The Grapes of Math (Scholastic, 2004), Math for All Seasons, and Math Potatoes. For ages 4-8.
  See Greg Tang Math for online versions of the books and many brain-boosting math games and puzzles.
 images-10 By Masaichiro Anno and Mitsumasa Anno, Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar (Penguin Putnam, 1999) is a wonderful introduction to the concept of factorials through the medium of a blue-and-white Oriental jar. The jar, opened, contains an ocean in which there are two islands. Each island has two countries; each country has three mountains; on each mountain, there are four walled kingdoms; and so on. A gorgeous multiplication problem ending up with a phenomenal number of jars. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-45 Amanda Bean, main character of Cindy Neuschwander’s Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream (Scholastic, 1998), loves to count, but she’s not at all interested in learning her multiplication facts. Until, that is, she has a dream in which eight sheep on bicycles each buy five balls of yarn, and the resultant counting confusion reveals the usefulness of learning how to multiply. The book’s cartoon-style illustrations are crammed with things to count (and multiply), from lollipops to windowpanes to puffy bushes in the park. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-46 In Marilyn Burns’s The Greedy Triangle (Scholastic, 1998), the greedy triangle wants more than just three sides and three angles. With the help of the local shapeshifter, he acquires more and more, becoming in turn a quadrilateral, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, and octagon before finally deciding that life as a triangle was really the best of all. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-47 In Ann Tompert’s Grandfather Tang’s Story (Dragonfly, 1997), a Chinese grandfather tells his little granddaughter a story about a pair of magical shape-changing foxes, illustrating the story with geometrical tangram puzzle pieces. The book includes a reproducible tangram template for making a set of your own. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-48 From ABCYa.com. Tangrams for Kids has tangram puzzles to solve online. Click and drag to rearrange the shapes. Also see Tangram Game from PBS Kids.
  From the Museum of Play, Tangrams has both an online game and a set of colorful printable tangrams.
 imgres-49 In Duncan Birmingham’s Look Twice (Tarquin, 1993), readers use an enclosed mirror card to turn a pair of identical objects into a pair of opposites. A fun study in symmetry for ages 4-8.
 imgres-50 Also see Birmingham’s M is for Mirror (Tarquin, 1988).
 imgres-51 Bruce Goldstone’s That’s a Possibility! (Henry Holt and Company, 2013) is an introduction to probability, using an interactive question-and-answer format and bright color photographs to discuss concepts of possible, probable, improbable, and certain. For example, a teddy bear has ten shirts and ten pairs of pants, which combine to make 100 different outfits – so it’s unlikely (100 to 1) that anyone can correctly guess what outfit he’s going to wear. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-52 In Lauren Leedy’s The Great Graph Contest (Holiday House, 2006), Chester (a snail) is monitoring a contest between friends Beezy (a lizard) and Gonk (a toad) over who can make the best graph. In the process, the friend explore data collection processes and many different kinds of graphs, among them bar graphs, pie graphs, pictographs, and Venn diagrams. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-53 Ann Whitehead Nagda’s Polar Bear Math (Square Fish, 2007) is a real-life exercise in fractions based on data from two polar bear cubs born at the Denver Zoo. Each double-page spread includes a page of data – how to mix polar-bear formula, for example – while the facing page tells the story of the bears, illustrated with photographs. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-54 Also by Ann Whitehead Nagda, in Cheetah Math (Henry Holt and Company, 2007) kids learn division with real-life data from a pair of cheetah cubs; Tiger Math (Square Fish, 2002) in which kids learn to graph by tracking the growth of a tiger cub; and Chimp Math (2002), in which readers learn to keep time records.
 images-11 Check out 10 Best Books for Teaching Graphs.

HANDS-ON MATH

 imgres-55 By Yelena McManaman and Maria Droujkova, Moebius Noodles (Delta Stream Media, 2014) – subtitled “Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd” – is a 80+-page collection of games and investigations for kids, plus helpful hints for parents hoping to provide a mind-expanding math environment. The book is divided into four sections: Symmetry, Quantity, Function, and Grid. Kids learn real math terms – say, transitive property – through play. Delightful, substantive, and sensible. For ages 1 and up.
 images-12 The Mother Goose Programs, developed by the Vermont Center for the Book, pair math- and science-related pictures book with open-ended investigative experiments and hands-on activities. Excellent for ages 3-5.
 imgres-56 Associated with the Mother Goose Programs is the What’s the BIG Idea? workbook series, a collection of six creatively interactive books designed to get kids excited about and involved in science and math. The books – crammed with hands-on activities and games – are illustrated with a mix of big bright-colored drawings and photo collage, and each comes with a companion CD featuring an appropriately themed picture book, printable activity cards and manipulatives, and a resource list. The books also include complete parent/teacher instructions, lots of extension suggestions, and an answer key. Titles are Counting (with Rick Walton’s How Many, How Many, How Many), Measuring (with Susan Hightower’s Twelve Snails to One Lizard), Shapes (with Dayle Ann Dodds’s The Shape of Things), Patterns (with Trudy Harris’s Pattern Fish), Sorting (with W. Nikola-Lisa’s Bein’ with You This Way), and Maps (with Pat Hutchins’s Rosie’s Walk).
 images-13 Family Math for Young Children (Grace Coates and Jean Stenmark; Lawrence Hall of Science, 1997) is a creative investigative approach to early math, concentrating on such skills as counting, estimating, comparing, measuring, shape recognition, directions, logic, and sorting. Sample activities include making jigsaw puzzles, making (and sorting) a stamp collection, making and playing number games, playing shadow games, measuring yourself (and family and friends) with adding machine tape, and designing a quilt patch. All instructions, game boards, matching cards, and number charts are included in the book. For each activity, there’s an explanation of the math skills involved, a materials list, and complete instructions. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-57 Margaret McNamara’s How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? (Schwartz and Wade, 2007) turns into a mathematical guessing game as the kids in Mr. Tiffin’s class try to figure out how many seeds are in large, small, and middle-sized pumpkins (A million? 500? 22?) Finally they cut the pumpkins open, scoop out the seeds, and count them, which is (1) messy and (2) the most straightforward way to find out. For ages 4-8.
For a mathematical lesson plan on pumpkins and pumpkin seeds, see Pumpkin Exploration.
There are dozens of sources for commercial math manipulatives and hands-on kits. A good starting point is Learning Resources, which sells dozens, including plastic counters, pattern blocks, tangrams, magnetic numbers, base-ten blocks, balances, and more.
Also see eNASCO or check out math manipulatives at Amazon.

MATH AROUND THE WORLD

 imgres-59 Quentin Blake’s Ten Frogs/Dix Grenouilles (Anova Books, 2008) is a French/English animal counting book, running from one crow (that is, un corbeau) to 100 wasps. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-60 In Yuyi Morales’s Mexican-themed Just a Minute (Chronicle Books, 2003), a skeleton arrives at Grandma Beetle’s door, demanding that she “come along.” Grandma, however, cleverly puts him off with a series of (countable) chores: she has one house to sweep, two pots of tea to brew, three pounds of corn to make into tortillas, and nine grandchildren to invite to her birthday party. Children plus skeleton – guest number ten – have such a wonderful time that the skeleton decides that Grandma doesn’t need to come along after all. Readers learn to count to ten in both English and Spanish. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-61 In Lezlie Evans’s Can You Count Ten Toes? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004), readers learn to count to ten in ten different languages: Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew, and Zulu. Included are phonetic pronunciations for each number word and a map showing where the featured languages are spoken. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-62 By Muriel Feelings, Moja Means One (Puffin, 1992) is a Swahili counting book, in which kids learn numbers 1-10 in Swahili as well as interesting facts about the land and culture of East Africa. The book begins with one impressive Mount Kilimanjaro, and continues through two kids playing a game of Mankala, three coffee trees, and so on, culminating in a group of ten children listening to a traditional storyteller. With lovely earth-toned illustrations by Tom Feelings. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-63 In Andrea Cheng’s Grandfather Counts (Lee & Low, 2003), Helen’s grandfather, newly arrived in America from China, speaks no English and Helen and her siblings speak no Chinese.  Gradually, though, as they watch passing trains together, her grandfather begins to teach Helen to count in Chinese, while she teaches him to count in English. A lovely story of an intergenerational relationship (with counting). For ages 4-8.
Learn how to count in 21 languages with this great Count the Animals app.

ROMAN NUMERALS

 imgres-64 Arthur Geisert’s Roman Numerals I to MM (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) is a clever and witty introduction to Roman numerals with lots and lots of cavorting pigs. Delightful for ages 5-8.
 images-14 David A. Adler’s picture book Fun With Roman Numerals (Holiday House, 2010) is an attractively illustrated explanation of Roman numerals and their uses today. For ages 7-10.
From ABCYa, Roman Numerals is an online game that teaches Roman numerals (while rebuilding a collapsed Roman temple).
 images-15 Roman Numerals Games has dozens of games for learning Roman numerals, variously grouped from 1-10, 1-20, 1-100, and 1-1000+.
Try this online Roman Numeral Converter, which runs from 1 to 4999.
From Math Is Fun, Roman Numerals has an explanation of the symbols and their combinations, rules for forming numbers, how to write really big numbers (up to a million), and a couple of handy mnemonics for remembering what’s what.

MATH AND ART

 imgres-65 From the San Antonio Museum of Art, 123 Si! (Trinity University Press, 2011) is a counting book illustrated with color photos of art works from the Museum, among them Mexican puppets, Olmec clay statuettes, and Korean pen-and-ink tigers. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-66 In Lucy Mickelthwait’s I Spy Two Eyes: Numbers in Art (HarperTeen, 1993) readers search for objects in classical works of art, from 1 fly and 2 eyes to 12 squirrels, 17 birds, and 20 angels. For ages 4-7.

 MATH ANXIETY

 imgres-67 In Mark Pett’s The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes (Sourcebook Jabberwocky, 2011), nine-year-old Beatrice never ever makes a mistake (unlike little brother Carl, who eats crayons). In fact, Beatrice is absolutely perfect, until the day of the annual talent show, when she makes a colossal and very public mistake. And discovers that it’s not the end of the world. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-68 In Joan Horton’s rhyming Math Attack! (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009), a little girl – at her wit’s end when her teacher asks for the answer to seven times ten – has a math attack: numbers EXPLODE out of her head and wreak havoc all over town, disrupting everything from the prices in the supermarket to the helicopters of the National Guard. Finally she gets the answer, and all goes back to normal. For ages 5-9.
 imgres-69 In Danny Schnitzlein’s The Monster Who Did My Math (Peachtree Publishers, 2012), a math-hating kid is struggling with his impossible multiplication homework when a monster arrives and offers to take care of it for him – all he has to do is sign the contract on the dotted line. All is well until the teacher sends him to the blackboard, and he discovers the contract’s fine print (“In paragraph seven of clause ninety-three/If you don’t learn anything, do not blame me!”). And then, as in all Faustian bargains, he has to come up with the pay-off. Which involves some math. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-70 Barbara Esham’s Last to Finish (Mainstream Connections Publishing, 2008), one of the Adventures of Everyday Geniuses series, features third-grader Max who has always liked math – but falls apart when his teacher starts giving the class timed tests. Max is miserable. Eventually, however, the teacher discovers that Max has been working problems from his older brother’s algebra book (for fun), and Max ends up on the school math team. A nice reminder that different kids learn in very different ways. For ages 6-9.

 JUST FOR FUN

 imgres-71 Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Wumbers (Chronicle Books, 2012), with bright cartoonish illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld, is a picture book for the text-messaging generation. Wumbers are words spelled with sound-alike numbers, familiar to anyone who has ever texted “gr8!” For example, try these: At a tea party (attended by a teddy bear and two little girls in purple): “Would you like some honey 2 swee10 your tea?” “Yes, that would be 1derful.” At a family picnic: “We have the 2na salad and the pl8s. What have we 4gotten?” (Dismay!)“The 4ks!” Fun creative word puzzles for beginning readers ages 5-8.

 

For much more, see MATH II.

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ABC: The Alphabet (and Beyond)

 

Zapped Zs, Alphabet Cities, dozens of cool and unusual alphabets, a lot of great books and projects, and alphabet flashcards for future nerds! (And it’s not all just for little kids.)

MOSTLY FOR BEGINNERS

 imgres Artist Lisa DeJohn’s colorful Alphabet Animals Flash Cards are printed in bright colors on heavy cardboard. Each has a capital alphabet letter, an animal word in lower-case print, and a great animal illustration, from Ant, Blackbird, and Caterpillar, through Mouse, Octopus and Zebra. For ages 1-4.
 imgres-1 In Stella Blackstone’s Alligator Alphabet (Barefoot Books, 2007), kids learn upper- and lower-case letters with a bevy of adorable painted animals (purple bears, turquoise elephants) in bright attractive borders. For ages 1-4.
 images Keith Baker’s LMNO Peas (Little Simon, 2014) is filled with imaginative cartoon peas participating in dozens of alphabetical professions. See peas as acrobats, artists, and astronauts; builders, bathers, and bikers; painters, poets, and plumbers; and even – eventually – zoologists. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-2 By David A. Carter, AlphaBugs (Little Simon, 2006) is a zany collection of pop-ups, pull-tabs, and liftable flaps concealing a lot of wacky alphabetical bugs. (Bubble Bugs. Yo-Yo Bugs.) For ages 2-6.
 imgres-3 In Lisa Campbell Ernst’s The Letters Are Lost (Puffin, 1999), the letters of the alphabet – each represented as an old-fashioned alphabet block – have been scattered: A flew off in an Airplane, B tumbled into the Bath, C joined a family of Cows. By the end, they’re finally all back in order in their box again – but where will they end up next? (Invent your own lost-letter scenarios.) For ages 2-6.
 imgres-4 In The Human Alphabet (Roaring Brook Press, 2005) by John Kane and the Philobolus Dance Company, dancers in bright-colored leotards take on the shapes of the alphabet letters. For ages 2-6.
 imgres-5 Steve Martin’s The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! (Flying Dolphin Press, 2007) begins with “Amiable Amy, Alice, and Andie/Ate all the anchovy sandwiches handy.” The illustrations, by brilliant cartoonist Roz Chast, are crammed with extra alphabetical goodies: under B, for example, readers can find everything from boomerangs, bears, and buckets to balloons, a ballerina, and a bowling ball. A great vocabulary builder for ages 2-6.
 imgres-6 Sandra Boynton’s A is for Angry: An Animal and Adjective Alphabet (Workman, 1997) runs from Angry Aardvark (deprived of ants) to Bashful Bear, Frightened Fox, and Zany Zebra (grinning, in pointy yellow party hat). Readers learn the alphabet, a host of animal names, emotion words, and the meaning of “adjective.” For ages 3-5.
 imgres-7 Mary Elting’s Q is for Duck (Houghton Mifflin, 1985) is an alphabetical guessing game of animal sounds: Q is for duck because ducks quack. (Now try B is for Dog.) For ages 3-5.
 imgres-8 In Sara Pinto’s interactive The Alphabet Room (Bloomsbury USA, 2003), A is predictably for Apple and Z for Zebra – but each letter is accompanied by a revealing lift-the-flap door, behind which increasing numbers of labeled objects are continually shuffled and rearranged. (The Cat and Dog play with the Fish; the little Lamb eats Ivy; and the Moustache pops up everywhere.) For ages 3-6.
 imgres-9 In Maira Kalman’s What Pete Ate From A to Z (Puffin, 2003) – subtitled “Where We Explore the English Alphabet (in its entirety) In Which a Certain Dog Devours a Myriad of Items Which He Should Not” – Pete chows down on an astonishing array of alphabetical stuff, beginning with Uncle Rocky’s Accordion. All with explanatory asides from his frustrated, but loving, owner. Funny and clever for ages 3-7.
 imgres-10 Dr. Seuss’s ABC (Random House, 1991) is a zany rhyming alphabet book beginning with “Aunt Annie’s alligator” and ending with “Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz.” Irresistible for ages 3-7.
 imgres-11 Who doesn’t love Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault’s catchy Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Beach Lane Books, 2009): “A told B/and B told C/I’ll meet you at the top/of the coconut tree.” (But 26 letters, it turns out, are a lot to cram into a coconut tree.) For ages 3-7.
 imgres-12 In Leslie Tryon’s Albert’s Alphabet (Aladdin, 1994), Albert – the school carpenter and a very creative duck – builds all the letters of the alphabet. For ages 3-7.
 imgres-13 In H.A. Rey’s Curious George Learns the Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1973), everyone’s favorite little monkey learns the upper- and lower-case letters of the alphabet, with help from the Man in the Yellow Hat. The trick is picture mnemonics: upper-case A, for example, looks like an alligator’s open mouth and lower-case a like a slice of apple; H looks like a house and h like a horse. For ages 3-7.
imgres-98 By graphic artist Paul Thurlby, Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet (Templar, 2011) has big bright retro-style drawings for each letter of the alphabet. Memory-jogging illustrations include A (for Awesome), E (Embrace), F (Fierce), and R (Rabbit). Check it out at Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet.
 imgres-14 Maurice Sendak’s Alligators All Around (HarperCollins, 1991) is a delightful alphabet romp with alligators, in which a family of three variously bursts balloons, catches cold, entertains elephants, makes macaroni, and pushes people. For ages 3-7.
From ReadWriteThink, Alliteration All Around is a five-part lesson plan in which kids make their own alliterative alphabet books and write alliterative poetry. (Targeted at grades 3-5.)
 imgres-15 In Lesa Cline-Ransome’s Quilt Alphabet (Holiday House, 2002), each letter of the alphabet – framed in a quilt square – is paired with an alphabetical riddle poem and a folk-art painting.  Answer are country-cosy: APPLE, COW, KETTLE, PIE, SCARECROW. For ages 3-6.
 imgres-16 In Tana Hoban’s 26 Letters and 99 Cents (Greenwillow Books, 1995), colorful photos of plastic letters are paired with photos of objects – D with a toy dinosaur, F with a goldfish, J with a handful of jellybeans. Flip the book over and it becomes a counting book in the same format. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-17 In Alethea Kontis’s AlphaOops! (Candlewick, 2012), put-upon Z (“Zebra and I are SICK of this last-in-line stuff!”) creates havoc in the alphabet, until A manages to pull things back together. A delightful read for ages 3-8.
 imgres-19 Arnold Lobel’s On Market Street (Greenwillow Books, 2006) chronicles in alphabetical order the list of objects a small sailor-suited child buys on Market Street. The illustrations – from apples, books, and clocks to lollipops, playing cards, quilts, and wigs – are wonderful Arcimboldo-type paintings of people made entirely from their wares. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-20 Max Grover’s The Accidental Zucchini (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997) is a wholly unexpected alphabet book, populated with such oddities as apple autos, octopus overalls, and vegetable volcanos. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-21 In George Shannon’s Tomorrow’s Alphabet (Greenwillow Books, 1999) – as in Mary Elting’s Q is for Duck – letter cues require a little forward thinking. A, for example, is for seed – tomorrow’s APPLE – and D is for puppy, tomorrow’s DOG. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-22 Graeme Base’s gorgeously alliterative Animalia (Harry N. Abrams, 1993) includes such alphabetical phrases as “An Armoured Armadillo Avoiding An Angry Alligator” and “Eight Enormous Elephants Expertly Eating Easter Eggs.” For all ages.
 imgres-23 In David Pelletier’s The Graphic Alphabet (Scholastic, 1996), a Caldecott Honor book, each page is essentially a concrete poem. A, for example, is an A-shaped mountain, crumbling at the top with a tumbling avalanche. For ages 6 and up.
 imgres-24 Marion Bataille’s ABC3D (Roaring Brook Press, 2008) is a truly spectacular three-dimensional alphabet pop-up book, in elegant red, white, and black. For pop-up fans of all ages.
For free printables for making your own pop-up alphabet booklets, see Canon Creative Park.

STORIES + ALPHABETS

 imgres-25 In Leo Lionni’s The Alphabet Tree (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), each letter has a favorite leaf on the alphabet tree – until a gale-force wind swoops in and blows them all over the place. The solution is cooperation, as the letters band together to form words. For ages 3-7.
The Alphabet Tree has multidisciplinary extension activities to accompany the book, among them learning about seasons, creating story sequence cards, making a word tree poster, and studying tree growth and planting seeds.
 imgres-26 Al Pha, main character of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Al Pha’s Bet (Putnam Juvenile, 2011), lived “back when all sorts of things were being invented” – among them, the alphabet. Al takes on the challenge of putting all the letters in proper order. For ages 3-5.
 imgres-27 In Dr. Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra (Random House, 1955), inventive young Conrad Cornelius O’Donald O’Dell introduces a host of wonderful letters that come after Z. (Try YUZZ, THNAB, and FLOOB.) (Invent some of your own!) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-28 Tony DiTerlizzi’s G is for One Gzonk (Simon & Schuster, 2006) is an outrageously zany “alpha-number-bet book” in which readers learn letters and numbers through such imaginary creatures as the Angry Ack, Dinkalicious Dinky, and Ravenous Rotoid. Lots of clever vocabulary and witty asides. For ages 4-7.
 imgres-29 In Kelly Bingham’s Z is for Moose (Greenwillow Books, 2012 ), Zebra is directing the line-up of the alphabet, a task continually disrupted by the over-eager Moose, who keeps bursting onto the scene, demanding “Is it my turn now?” “NOW?” Devastatingly, when M finally comes along, the letter goes to Mouse – but Zebra saves the day at Z, when Z stands for “Zebra’s friend Moose.” A great (and funny) read for ages 4-8.
 imgres-30 In Neil Gaiman’s The Dangerous Alphabet (HarperCollins, 2010), two kids and their pet gazelle launch themselves into a spooky underground in search of treasure. The story, rife with pirates, monsters, and trolls, is told in rhyming alphabetical (slightly scrambled) couplets. With Victorian-style illustrations by Gris Grimly. For ages 6-9.
 imgres-31 In James Thurber’s The Wonderful O (Simon & Schuster, 1957), a pirate named Black in search of buried treasure takes over the island of Ooroo and proceeds to ban the letter O. As the pirates forcibly remove everything with an O in its name, the islanders, led by a poet named Andreus, vow that four O words will not be lost: hope, valor, love, and freedom. This short chapter book is appropriate for ages 8 or so and up – probably not much younger; the word play is so clever that kids need well-developed reading and vocabulary skills to fully appreciate it.
 imgres-32 Ella Minnow Pea. Say it once or twice, fast, and you’ll see what it has to do with the alphabet. Ella is the protagonist of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (Anchor, 2002), set on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. The island is named for its founder, Nevin Nollop, inventor of the famous pangram (that is, a sentence using all 26 letters of the alphabet) “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This pangram is set in tiles on the base of Nollop’s memorial monument and when the tiles start falling off, the Nollopian governmental committee attributes it not to failing glue but to a sign from the beyond. The Z is the first to fall, and it is promptly decreed that the letter Z be expunged from the Nollopian alphabet. This is a problem for Nollopians named Zeke or Zachary, and a disaster for the island beekeeper (the bees, which make ZZZ sounds all the time, have to be eliminated), but most people manage to get by. As more and more letters fall, however, life becomes increasingly difficult; and the island takes on aspects of a fascist state.  For teenagers and adults.
 images-1 Visit Pangrams to learn all about these slippery alphabetical sentences and have a try at inventing one of your own.
 imgres-34 In fantasy author Patricia McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorn (Ace Trade, 2005), Nepenthe, a foundling with an unusual talent for language and translation, is raised by the librarians of the Royal Library of Raine, where she leads a secluded ivory-tower existence, devoted to books. Then a student mage brings her a new book written in a strange thorn-like alphabet that only she can read – and that appears to have strange magical powers. For teenagers and adults.

ALL ABOUT THE ALPHABET

 imgres-35 James Rumford’s There’s a Monster in the Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002) is the story of the pictorial beginnings of our modern alphabet, supposedly first brought to ancient Greece by the Phoenecian hero Cadmus. An appended chart compares English, Phoenecian, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic alphabets.
 imgres-36 Don Robb’s Ox, House, Stick: The History of Our Alphabet (Charlesbridge, 2007) is a 48-page picture-book history of the alphabet targeted at ages 8-12.
 imgres-37 Alphabet Books from Grim Morality to Pleasurable Learning is a brief history of alphabet books (with examples) from The Victorian Web.
 imgres-38 David Sacks’s Letter Perfect (Broadway Books, 2004) is the “marvelous history of our alphabet” from the Phoenecians to the present day. Included are general information, a family tree of world alphabets, many alphabetic charts, photographs of artifacts, and 26 informative chapters, each devoted to a different letter of the alphabet. Find out how letters got their shapes, why some letters have multiple sounds, and why X marks the spot. For teenagers and adults.
 imgres-39 Roy Blount’s Alphabet Juice (Sarah Crichton Books, 2009), arranged A to Z alphabet-style, is an info- and anecdote-filled overview of words and letters. The enormous subtitle gives you a sense of the content: “The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, Tinctures, Tonics, and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory.” For teenagers and adults.

POSITIVELY WICKED ALPHABETS

 imgres-40 Chris Van Allburg’s The Z was Zapped (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1987) is a clever play in 26 acts, in which each letter – appearing in black-and-white on a curtained stage – has something (generally awful) happen to it. A, for example, is caught in an Avalanche, B is Badly Bitten, K is Kidnapped, Y is Yanked offstage with a crook. And you can see by the title what happened to Z. A creative read for ages 4 and up.
By Far the Best Alphabet Book Ever is a lesson plan in which kids create their own “alphabet riddles” based on The Z Was Zapped. Included is a printable page of a curtained stage.
Also see The Z Was Zapped Alliteration Project (targeted at grade 3).
 imgres-41 By Shel Silverstein, Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book (Touchstone, 1985) is a wickedly funny alphabet book supposedly for adults only. (“Meet Ernie, the giant who lives in the ceiling. Ernie likes eggs. Catch, Ernie, catch!”) My kids found it hilarious. For all ages, depending on sense of humor.
 imgres-42 In Edward Gorey’s rhyming The Gashlycrumb Tinies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997), a succession of Victorian children come to sad, bad ends, from Amy (who fell down the stairs) and Basil (assaulted by bears) to Zilla (who drank too much gin). My macabre children adored and memorized it. For a wide range of appropriately twisted ages. In our house, it was found hysterical by age 7.
 imgres-43 Also see Gorey’s Thoughtful Alphabets (Pomegranate, 2012), a pair of grimly hilarious 26-phrase stories (“The Just Dessert” and “The Deadly Blotter”), both running from A to Z. (“Apologize. Bewail complications.”)
 imgres-44 By Jory John and Avery Monsen, K is for Knifeball (Chronicle Books, 2012) is a rhyming A to Z collection of truly terrible advice, supposedly directed at (but not really for) kids. B is for Blender. F is for Fire. You can see where this is going.
 imgres-45 In Roz Chast’s What I Hate From A to Z (Bloomsbury USA, 2011), a cartoon compendium of miseries, B is for Balloon (“imminent explosion”), C is for Carnival, G for General Anaesthesia, and S for Spontaneous Human Combustion. For teenagers and adults. Make one of your own. Think therapy.

ALPHABETS IN THE REAL WORLD

 images-3 By architectural photographer Elliott Kaufman, Alphabet Everywhere (Abbeville Kids, 2012) shows how the letters of the alphabet appear in all sorts of unexpected ways in the world around us, from bridge supports to sidewalk shadows to branches, leaves, and ocean waves. (Would make a great family project.) For ages 3 and up.
 imgres-47 Stephen Johnson’s Alphabet City (Puffin, 1999), a Caldecott Honor book, is a wordless tour of the alphabet, finding letters A to Z in construction sites, fire escapes, traffic lights, lamp posts, and church windows. For ages 3 and up.
 imgres-48 By Krystina Castella and Brian Boyd, Discovering Nature’s Alphabet (Heyday, 2006) is a fascinating collecting of color photographs of alphabet images from nature, found in everything from branches, vines, and rocks to seaweed on the beach. (Try taking an alphabet nature walk.) For ages 5 and up.
 imgres-49 Karl Blossfeldt’s The Alphabet of Plants (Schimmer/Mosel, 2007) is not an alphabet, but rather a collection of stunning black-and-white photographs of plant patterns in nature. All ages.

HISTORY, ALPHABET-STYLE

 imgres-50 Martin Jarrie’s ABC USA (Sterling, 2005) is an alphabetical overview of American history and culture (B is for Baseball, F is for Flag, I is for Immigrant), with charming folk-art-style illustrations. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-51 Lynne Cheney’s America: A Patriotic Primer (Simon & Schuster, 2002) is an alphabet book of American history and culture, with multifaceted cartoon-style illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser. Lots to look at and discuss. For ages 5-10.
 imgres-52 Lynne Cheney’s A is for Abigail (Simon & Schuster, 2003) is an alphabet of famous American women, beginning with the indomitable Abigail Adams. Clever cartoon-style illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser are crammed with extra information. Many pages are composites, such as E (for Educators) and W (for Writers). For ages 5-10.
 imgres-53 James Rumford’s Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004) is a picture-book biography of the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary. The text appears in both English and Cherokee; included is a Cherokee alphabet chart. For ages 5-8.
The Cherokee Alphabet and How to Use It is a tutorial on writing in Cherokee.
 imgres-54 By artist/historian Eric Sloane, the ABC Book of Early Americana (Dover Publications, 2012) is a beautifully illustrated compendium of American inventions and antiquities, from Axe, Almanack, Bathtub, and Conestoga wagon to Zig-zag fence. Included is a section on “The Alphabet in Early America.” For all ages.

AROUND THE WORLD WITH ALPHABETS

 imgres-55 From Sleeping Bear Press, the Discover the World series consists of alphabet books on various countries of the world, among them America, England, Italy, China, and India. See the link for a complete list, plus accompanying recipes, games, and maps. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-56 Margaret Musgrove’s Ashanti to Zulu (Puffin, 1992) is an alphabet of African tribes and traditions, with an appended map showing where each of the featured tribes lives. The gorgeous illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon won this book a Caldecott Medal. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-57 By Maya Ajmera and Anna Rhesa Versola, Children from Australia to Zimbabwe (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2001) is an alphabetical and photographic journey around the world. For each country are included a colorful map, helpful background information, the word “hello” in the dominant language, and a lot of terrific photos. For ages 7-12.
 imgres-58 Rather than a phonetic alphabet, some languages – like Chinese – are written with pictographic characters. Peggy Goldman’s Hu is a Tiger (Scholastic, 1996) is a simple introduction to Chinese characters for kids.
 imgres-59 A survey of multicultural and alternative alphabets can be a fascinating project for all ages. See Omniglot for background information on the history of writing and an immense and fascinating list of writing systems. Visitors can view the Cyrillic, Etruscan, Runic, and Greek alphabets, and many many more. The site also includes a list of “alternative alphabets,” including Braille, Morse code, and the Shavian alphabet – inspired by George Bernard Shaw, who touted a phonetic alphabet designed to simplify English spelling.

 SCIENCE, MATH, AND ALPHABETS

 images-4 Nerdy Baby ABC Flashcards are not your ordinary A-is-for-Apple flashcards. In these 26 laminated, illustrated cards, aimed at future geeks and scientists, A is for Atom, C for Cell membrane, M for Mandelbrot set, and N for Neuron.
 imgres-61 Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet runs the gamut from Apricot, Apple Avocado, and Asparagus to Zucchini. A brightly illustrated compendium of multicultural fruits and veggies, including such not-so-common selections as Jicama, Kiwi, Yam, and Xigua. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-62 Anita Lobel’s Alison’s Zinnia (Greenwillow, 1996) is a lovely interlinking alphabet of girls’ names, flower names, and verbs, from “Alison acquired an Amaryllis for Beryl” to the neatly tied up “Zena zeroed in on a Zinnia for Alison.” Illustrated with beautiful and botanically accurate flower paintings. For ages 4-8.
 imgres-63 Mary Azarian’s A Gardener’s Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005), illustrated with colored woodcuts, is a collection of 26 alphabetical garden words, beginning with ARBOR, BULBS, and COMPOST. For ages 4-8.
 images-5 In the same format, see Azarian’s A Farmer’s Alphabet (David R. Godine, 2009). (APPLE, LAMB, PUMPKIN, ZINNIA.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-64 By David McLimans, Gone Wild (Walker Children’s Books, 2006) – a Caldecott Honor book – is an alphabet of endangered animals from Chinese Alligator to Grevy’s Zebra. Black-and-white letters are cleverly transmogrified into animals, complete with horns, eyes, tongues, and wings. For ages 4-6.
  imgres-65 Name a topic and Jerry Pallotta has almost certainly written an alphabet book about it. For a complete list – everything from Airplanes, Beetles, and Birds to Vegetables and Yucky Reptiles – see here.
 imgres-66 Particularly fascinating for young scientists is Jerry Pallotta’s The Skull Alphabet Book (Charlesbridge, 2002) which pictures the skulls of 26 different animals (anteater to zebra). The skulls aren’t labeled; readers have to figure out the source for themselves from clues in the text. For ages 5-8.
 imgres-67 In Kjell Sandved’s The Butterfly Alphabet (Scholastic, 1999), readers find the letters of the alphabet in the patterns on butterfly wings – that is, real butterfly wings. The author, a nature photographer, decided to create the book when he found a perfect letter F on the wing of a tropical moth that he was studying under the microscope. Double-page spreads show the whole butterfly or moth with its scientific name, paired with a close-up of the wing showing an alphabet letter pattern. For all ages.
Available from Butterfly Alphabet, Inc., is a Butterfly Alphabet poster. (There’s also an option to write your name in butterfly wings.)
 imgres-68 By David M. Schwartz, G is for Google (Tricycle Press, 1998) is a math alphabet book, running from A is for Abacus to Z is for Zillion. (In between, Binary, Exponent, Fibonacci,  and X-axis.) Each entry is accompanied by catchy cartoon-style illustrations and two to three pages of reader-friendly explanation. For ages 9-12.
 imgres-69 In David M. Schwartz’s multidisciplinary Q is for Quark (Tricycle Press, 2009) – a science alphabet book – A is for Atom, B for Black Hole, C for Clone, and X for Xylem. Each entry comes with appealing cartoon illustrations and two to three pages of background information and explanation. For ages 9-12.
my-first-physics-alphabet-poster My First Physics Poster is a great A to Z infographic poster in which a is for acceleration, c for speed of light in a vacuum, f for frequency, and h for Planck’s constant.

ALPHABETICAL ART

 imgres-70 In Denise Fleming’s Alphabet Under Construction (Square Fish, 2006), artistic Mouse is busily creating an alphabet, using a different creative technique from each letter – for example, Air-brushing the A, Buttoning the B, Carving the C, and Dyeing the D. For ages 3-6.
 abcdefg See Alphabet Under Construction Activities for printable bookmarks  and instructions for making a mouse hat and constructing your own wonderful-looking Mouse-style alphabet.
 DSCN3822 From Growing Kinders, Alphabet Under Construction has instructions for making great collage-style alphabet letters.
 imgres-71 From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum ABC (Little, Brown Books, 2002) is a tour of the alphabet through dozens of works of art from the Museum’s collection. A beautiful book for ages 3 and up.
 imgres-72 By Cynthia Weill, ABeCeDarios (Cinco Puntos, 2007) is an alphabet book of Mexican folk art animals, in which animal names are listed in both English and Spanish. The animals are carved and brightly painted sculptures. Grab some modeling clay and make some of your own. For ages 2-4.
 imgres-73 Lucy Mickelthwait’s I Spy: An Alphabet in Art (Greenwillow, 1998) is a collection of 26 famous paintings, among them works by Rousseau, Goya, Chagall, Picasso, Renoir, and Matisse. Each is chosen to illustrate a letter of the alphabet, which often involves a bit of a hunt. The book begins with Rene Magritte’s Son of Man, with its prominent green Apple. For ages 3-8.
 imgres-74 Nathanael Iwata’s Steampunk Alphabet (Cameron + Company, 2013) takes ordinary alphabet-book fare – Apple, Balloon, Candle – and re-images them steampunk-style, in wood and brass, with dials, levers, cogs, and gears.  Included are explanations of the objects’ uses in an imagined steampunk universe. For ages 4 and up.
 images-6 In Stephen Johnson’s A is for Art (Simon & Schuster, 2008), there’s more than initially meets the eye. The book consists of 26 original works of abstract art, each containing concealed alphabet letters. For ages 6 and up.
 imgres-75 Some of the most gorgeous alphabets ever are surely the illuminated letters of medieval manuscripts.  Kids can learn about the process of 15th-century book-making in Bruce Robertson’s Marguerite Makes a Book (J. Paul Getty Museum Publications, 1999) in which young Marguerite, when her artist father is injured, takes over and finishes his beautiful hand-written and painted book. Fold-out pages explain the technicalities of the process, including how paints were mixed and gold leaf applied. For ages 7-12.
 images-7 This Illuminated Letter project has background information, color photos of examples, and instructions.
 imgres-76 Theodore Menten’s The Illuminated Alphabet (Dover Publications, 1971) is an inexpensive coloring book with 50 detailed black-line medieval letters to color. For ages 8 and up.
 imgres-77 Tony Seddon’s Draw Your Own Alphabets (Princeton Architectural Press, 2013) is a workbook with which users learn to draw thirty different creative fonts (and invent some of your own). For ages 10 and up.
From Wikihow, see How to Create a Font.
YourFonts.com is an online font generator that allows you to turn your handwriting into a font.
 Type-Alphabet9 Check out these 30 Amazing Alphabet Recreations – alphabets in everything from architecture to skylights, neon, books, and cucumbers.

ABCs with EXTRAS

 imgres-78 Jane Bayer’s A, My Name is Alice (Puffin, 1992) is an alphabetical picture-book version of the traditional jump rope rhyme, with illustrations by Steven Kellogg. (Add a jump rope and give it a try.) For ages 4-8.
 imgres-80 By Ann Whitford Paul, Eight Hands Round (HarperCollins, 1996) is a charmingly illustrated history of 26 alphabetical quilt patterns. For ages 4-9.
 imgres-81 Laura Rankin’s The Handmade Alphabet (Puffin, 1996) teaches American Sign Language with clever letter-related visual cues. For each letter, a hand demonstrates the finger positions of the ASL alphabet, along with an alphabetical extra: the G hand, for example, wears a glove; I points to an Icicle; the T hand sports three thimbles; the V holds a paper valentine. For ages 6 and up.
 imgres-82 Chris L. Demarest’s Alpha Bravo Charlie (Margaret K. McElderry, 2005) is a picture-book introduction to the military or International Communications Alphabet (ICA), along with a chart of the U.S. Navy’s alphabetical signal flags. For ages 6-9.
See Phonetic Alphabet Tables for more phonetic alphabets, along with a tool for inventing some of your own.
 imgres-83 Learn more about the U.S. Navy’s Phonetic Alphabet and Signal Flags.
 imgres-84 Tobi Tobias’s A World of Words (Lothrop Lee & Shepard, 1998) is a beautiful illustrated alphabet of quotations by such authors as Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll. (Interested older kids might enjoy making alphabetic quotation books of their own.) For all ages.

ALPHABETICAL POETRY

 imgres-85 Katrina Vandenberg’s The Alphabet Not Unlike the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012) is a collection of poems named for the Phoenician letters of the alphabet. A compelling collection for teenagers and adults.
 imgres-86 Edward Lear’s Alphabet Poem runs from “A tumbled down and hurt his arm” to “Z said, ‘Here is a box of Zinc!’”
 imgres-87 Gennady Spirin’s A, Apple Pie (Philomel, 2005) is an enchantingly illustrated picture-book version of the traditional alphabet rhyme beginning “A was an Apple Pie/B bit it/C cut it…” For all ages.
 imgres-88 By Lee Bennett Hopkins, Alphathoughts (Wordsong, 2003) is an illusrated collection of 26 poems, each representing a letter of the alphabet. B is for Books, J for Jelly, L for Library, P for Pencil. For ages 6-8.
 imgres-89 Richard Wilbur’s picture book The Disappearing Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001) demonstrates in clever rhymes what would happen if each letter of the alphabet should vanish: “What if the letter S were missing?/Cobras would have no way of hissing/And all their kin would have to take/The name of ERPENT or of NAKE.” Terrific for all ages.
 imgres-90 April Bubbles Chocolate: An ABC of Poetry, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins (Simon & Schuster, 1994), is a collection of 26 short alphabetical poems ranging from Eve Merriam’s “April” to Carl Sandburg’s “Bubbles,” Karla Kushkin’s “Moon,” and Richard Brautigan’s “Xerox Candy Bar.” For ages 3-8.
 imgres-91 Jeanne Steig’s Alpha Beta Chowder (HarperTrophy, 1994) is a collection of hysterical alliterative alphabet rhymes. (T, for example, features Tactless Toby who teases Tina with tadpoles in her tapioca.) For ages 7 and up.
 imgres-92 Paul Janeczko’s Poetry from A to Z (Simon & Schuster, 1994) is a marvelous guide for young poets with projects, examples, and helpful hints for poetic genres listed alphabetically. Try, for example, Acrostics, Clerihews, How-to Poems and Haikus, Memory Poems, and Shape Poems. Highly recommended for ages 9-12.
For many more poetry books and resources, see Poetry I and Poetry II.

PROJECTS AND ACTIVITIES

 imgres-93 Sara Midda’s How to Build an A (Artisan, 2008) is a simple alphabet book (A for Apple, B for Boy) that comes with eleven plastic puzzle pieces with which kids can build all the upper- and lower-case letters of the alphabet. For ages 2-5.
 imgres-94 Judy Press’s Alphabet Art (Williamson Publishing, 1997) is a collection of poems, songs, projects, games, and fingerplays for teaching the letters of the alphabet. For example, kids make upper- and lower-case Bs from bubblewrap (templates can be traced from the book), assemble a paper Butterfly, and read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar (which sounds like a C book, but there’s a gorgeous and enormous butterfly on the last page).For ages 2-6.
 imgres-95 From Enchanted Learning, Alphabet Book has instructions for putting together a simple version of an alphabet book for early learners. You’ll need construction paper and a lot of old magazines.
 imgres-95 Also see Design and Create an Alphabet Journal.
For older students, ABC Books Aren’t for Babies! has creative alphabet book activities for grades K-12. Included is an A to Z list of suggestions: students can make, for example, an Ancient Civilizations Alphabet Book, a Biology Alphabet Book, a Mathematics Alphabet Book, or a Technology Alphabet Book.
 920 Decorate with the alphabet! At Alphabet Around the Room, find instructions for making a cool wrap-around alphabet and word display.
 Alphabet-For-Starters-Alphabet-Peg-Dolls-300x215 From No Time for Flash Cards, 25 Alphabet Activities for Kids include making a magnetic alphabet garden, a letter pizza, a recycled alphabet, and a set of alphabet peg dolls.
 better-letters-craft-photo-420x420-FF0811CREATE_A16 Projects at Spoonful’s 26 Alphabet Crafts include growing the letters of your name (with wheat berry seeds), baking oatmeal ABC cookies, making letter gems, and assembling a photo alphabet book.
 imgres-96 At ABCYa, play Alphabet Bingo online. Learn upper- and lower-case letters.
Build Your Own Bingo has printable bingo boards and instructions for making your own alphabet bingo game.
 imgres-97 Check out this great Lego Spaceship Alphabet. (Build one of your own?)
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